Chevron plans to continue its expansion in Brazil, a top executive said on Friday, as the U.S. oil giant tries to contain the political fallout of an oil spill off the South American nation's coast.

Auctions for oil concessions in Brazil are now suspended as the country draws up new policies for the sector that is on the verge of rapid expansion after the discovery of massive offshore reserves deep under a layer of salt rock.

Chevron was ordered to halt its drilling in Brazil this week pending investigations by the Federal Police and other authorities after thousands of barrels of oil leaked from its Frade field off Rio de Janeiro's coast.

The company has acknowledged it wrongly estimated pressure and rock strength in the reservoir it was targeting. Chevron is the majority stakeholder in the Frade concession with Brazil's state-run Petrobras

and a Japanese consortium.

Chevron's chief for Latin America and Africa, Ali Moshiri, described as premature the government's ban on its drilling activities, which it had already halted voluntarily shortly after the oil leak was discovered.

We plan to continue participating in new auctions for oil exploration blocks in Brazil, if there is creation of value and benefits, Moshiri said in a press conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil's national energy regulator, ANP, said on Friday the oil stain on the sea surface was shrinking. The company estimated that around 2,400 barrels of crude had leaked from fissures in the seabed after rock parted during drilling work.

(Reporting by Leila Coimbra; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Alonso Soto and Sofina Mirza-Reid)