Sergio Gabrielli, the president of Brazilian state-controlled oil company Petrobras, estimates that the oil and natural gas bed discovered by the company in the Santos Basin in the southeastern Brazilian coast is going to include Brazil among the world's ten largest oil producing countries.
According to Gabrielli, the reserves, estimated in between 5 billion and 8 billion barrels, will ensure the country the eighth or ninth position in the ranking.
After the volume announced this Thursday, November 8. at Campo de Tupi field, said Gabrielli, Brazil now has reserves similar to those of Nigeria and Venezuela. With reserves totaling 14.4 billion barrels of oil and natural gas, Brazil currently ranks 24th in the global ranking of producer countries. "This is extremely good news," he claimed.
According to the Exploration and Product director at Petrobras, Guilherme Estrela, Campo de Tupi might go into commercial operation within up to six years. In 2011, though, a test phase for extraction will begin, with a production of 100,000 barrels of oil and gas per day.
Presently, the area of the new reserve at the Santos Basin counts on 15 exploratory wells that demanded investments of US$ 1 billion in the last two years. In order to reach these wells, the state-owned company drilled through 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) of salt for more than one year. The first well alone cost US$ 240 million.
Nevertheless, to Gabrielli, the reserves might be even larger. He claimed that extraction of oil and gas at between 5,000 and 7,000 meters of depth, at the same layer in which the bed was discovered at Campo de Tupi, might add from 70 billion to 107 billion barrels of the products to the Brazilian reserves.
To that extent, the company needs to intensify extraction at those depths in the coastline ranging from the state of Espírito Santo (Southeast) to the state of Santa Catarina in the South.
The discover of new oil reserves at the Santos Basin will allow for Brazil to become an exporter of the commodity, said the minister of the Chief of Staff's office, Dilma Rousseff.
To the minister, the new reserves will change the country's positioning in the international oil market, and will turn Brazil into an exporter of the commodity. "Brazil will rise from an intermediate-level national to a first class nation in the oil world. We are rising up to the level of the Arab countries and of Venezuela," she said.
Estimated to be among 5 billion and 8 billion barrels, the oil reserves were discovered this week at the field Campo de Tupi, in the Santos Basin. The volume is sufficient for Brazil to increase production by up to 50%.
Currently, the country's reserves stand at approximately 14 billion barrels. The Brazilian minister of Mines and Energy, Nelson Hubner, stated that it should take from six to seven years for the new reserves to start being commercially explored.
The announcement of the new reserve has led to changes in the next auction for oil exploration. During an extraordinary meeting at the Petrobras head offices, in the southeastern Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, the National Council for Energy Policies (CNPE) decided to withdraw 41 blocs from the Ninth Round of Tenders to be held in November.
After the change, the total number of available blocs for the next auction has dropped to 217. According to the minister of the Chief of Staff's office, Dilma Rousseff, the decision was taken so as to preserve national interests and ensure exploration of the new oil and gas beds by Petrobras and its current partners. "The decision is rooted in a key question: preserving our national interests," she stated.
The area in which the reserve was discovered has 800 kilometers (500 miles) of length and up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) of width. The petroleum is located at depths of between 5,000 meters (3 miles) and 7,000 meters (4.3 miles).
Ever since the establishment of Petrobras, in 1953, Brazil had always been an importer of oil. Only in April 2006, with the entry into operation of platform P-50, at the Campos Basin, in the coastline of the southeastern Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro, did Petrobras announce that the country had become self-sufficient in the commodity.