|The Tupi field. Click to enlarge. Source: BG Group.|
Petrobras last week announced the discovery of a new offshore oil province, ranging through the Espírito Santo, Campos, and Santos Basins, in ultra-deep horizons, and in pre-salt rocks. Petrobras analyzed and tested the ultra-deep Tupi area in the region, and said that Tupi alone, which represents only a small part of the new region, has a recoverable volume of between 5 to 8 billion barrels of oil and natural gas.
Petrobras is the area’s operator and holds 65% of the working interest, while British outfit BG holds 25%, and Portuguese company Petrogal-Galp Energia, 10%.
As a result of the discovery, Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that his country might soon join OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to a report in Brazzil magazine. “This discovery of an exceptional reserve, with good quality oil and plenty of gas,” he stated, “puts Brazil in a highly privileged situation. Very soon Brazil is going to join OPEC.”
The announced oil province is located in a new exploratory frontier, where the pre-salt layer was reached for the first time. To date, Petrobras is the only company, with the operator status, with or without partnerships, that has drilled, tested, and evaluated pre-salt rocks.
Petrobras invested $1-billion over the past couple of years, drilled 15 wells and reached the pre-salt layers, eight of which duly tested and evaluated. These wells produce high commercial value light oil (28° API) and a large amount of associated natural gas.
Petrobras developed new drilling projects to reach the pre-salt layers, at depths of 5,000 to 7,000 meters: more than 2,000 meters of salt have already been crossed. The first well took more than a year and cost $240 million to be drilled. Nowadays, Petrobras drills an equivalent well in 60 days for $60 million.
The data obtained from these wells, integrated with a major mapping effort, allowed the company to determine that the pre-salt rock formations range from an area extending from the State of Espírito Santo to the State of Santa Catarina. It is about 800 km long and 200 km wide, and is found in water depths between 2,000 to 3,000 meters.
Brazil’ National Oil, Natural Gas and Biofuels Agency has already granted about 25% of the pre-salt rock areas to several oil companies in the form of exploratory blocks and production concessions.