Brazil Starts 4-Mile-Deep Extraction of Oil in the Ocean

Petrobras offshore rig Petrobras, Brazil's state-controlled oil and gas multinational, will extract its first crude oil from the potentially huge offshore Tupi field find, of late 2007, below the salt layer of the Santos basin next May, announced Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The oil will be extracted from the sub-salt reserves found in the 5-to-8-billion-barrel Tupi oil field, one of the largest deep water finds in history. Tupi is part of a broader structure of oil at a depth of up to 7 kilometers that analysts have said could contain 50-80 billion barrels.

"What will happen is very important. We're going to extract the first barrels of oil at a depth of 6,000 meters. That is no small feat" said Lula on Friday during the inauguration of a gas treatment plant in Espí­rito Santo state.

According to Petrobras initial sub-salt output from the Tupi field will be around 15,000 barrels per day rising to 30,000 barrels a day during a later stage of testing and then to around 100,000 barrels per day by 2010 when it will be in a more advanced pilot phase.

However the Tupi oil will not be the first sub-salt crude drilling. Crude was pumped last September from a much smaller field in Espí­rito Santo state.

Petrobras also announced on Friday that it posted its largest-ever one-day output of Brazilian crude last week after several new platforms recently came on line. Production on Wednesday, March 4, reached 2,012,654 barrels which was 12,420 barrels more than the previous record set on Christmas day of 2007.

"This result is due mainly to the coming on line of three new production platforms in the last months in the Campos basin (off Rio de Janeiro): P-51 and Cidade de Niterói in the Marlim Sul field; and P-53, in Marlim Leste," according to the company's release.

Petrobras said good performance on several of its other platforms, notably P-52 and P-54, also helped push output to a new record. It said several more platforms would begin producing in 2009, some part-owned by other oil firms.

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