Brazilian firm makes offshore crude find

March 21st, 2012 - 11:46 am ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, March 21 (IANS/EFE) Brazilian state-controlled energy giant Petrobras said Tuesday it discovered a new “high-quality” oil accumulation off the coast of Sao Paulo state.

The new find was made in the pre-salt region, so-named because the tens of billions of barrels of reserves it is estimated to hold are located far beneath the ocean floor under a layer of salt as much as two km thick.

It is located near the Iara and Lula mega-fields, the first that Petrobras has begun to commercially develop in the pre-salt region.

The new discovery was made at the Carcara well in a block in which Petrobras is the operator with a 66 percent stake; a smaller stake is held by Petrogal Brasil, a subsidiary of Portugal’s Galp Energia (14 percent), while Brazilian firms Barra Energia do Brasil and Queiroz Galvao each hold 10 percent interests.

The recently discovered pre-salt fields - distributed across roughly 160,000 sq. km - are estimated to hold between 50-80 billion barrels of crude and could potentially transform Brazil into a major crude exporter.

But accessing the fields will be very costly and pose an enormous technical challenge because they are located at depths of up to 7,000 meters under a shifting layer of salt.

Drastic changes in temperature as the oil is brought to the surface also add to the technical complexity of developing those reserves.

One of the pre-salt wells already is the country’s most productive - yielding 36,000 barrels per day - even though it only began being commercially developed in 2010.

That well is located in the Lula field, whose reserves are estimated at between 5-8 billion barrels of oil equivalent, or about half of Brazil’s proven reserves of 14 billion barrels.

Petrobras plans to invest $225 billion through 2015 as it eyes developing the pre-salt area and boosting production to 5.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020.

Petrobras, an open capital company controlled by the Brazilian government, registered average oil and gas production of 2.73 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in January, up 2.6 percent from the same month of last year.

–IANS/EFE
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