Brazil's government controlled oil multinational Petrobras said late Monday, April 14, that more conclusive data on the Carioca ultra deep pre salt basin discovery potential "will only be known after other phases in the assessment process have been completed."
Earlier in the day Haroldo Lima, head of Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, ANP, was quoted in the press saying that "according to unconfirmed and unofficial reports he read, the new (Carioca, off shore Santos) discovery could contain up to 33 billion barrels in oil equivalent, or BOE."
Petrobras said it had informed the ANP of the discovery in the BM-S-9 exploration block in Brazil's Santos Basin in September after it had found oil in one exploration block, but so far hadn't made a comment on the possible size of the block. The company added it will present a plan to the ANP in coming days on how it will continue to explore the block.
Petrobras also said that it has started drilling a second block in a different area of the BM-S-9 block in late March, but so far hasn't reached the necessary depth to know whether oil was there as well.
Later in the day Brazil Energy Minister Edison Lobão was quoted as saying that he neither wishes to confirm or deny Lima's statements. However, he cautioned that any announcement on the extension of oil fields should only be made once the government is certain about the data. "Results will be announced to the market in a timely manner."
The new discovery could contain five times as much oil reserves as the nearby Tupi field Lima was quoted as saying to the Brazilian press. Petrobras in November said Tupi could contain up to 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
The BM-S-9 block is operated by Petrobras with a 45% stake, while BG Group holds 30% and Repsol-YPF 25%. A BG press official in Rio de Janeiro said since Petrobras is the lead operator in the area, BG won't comment on the discovery before Petrobras does.
While Petrobras avoided giving a name to the new discovery, Lima, according to his press officials, talked about the Carioca (a resident of Rio de Janeiro city) field. The local Estado newswire, however, said he was referring to the area as the Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) field.
Both ANP and Petrobras press officials said the two names possibly mean the same oil reserve. Any names given to discoveries are only preliminary until an official reserve estimate has been made, Petrobras said.
The Web site Next Energy News said in December that "preliminary exploration of the area has determined that the Sugar Loaf field is five times the size of the Tupi field," and that according to officials at Petrobras, the field "may produce up to 40 billion barrels of oil." However the Web site didn't identify the Petrobras officials.
Oil found in Tupi lies at water depths of more than 2.000 meters, and a further 5.000 meters below layers of sand, rocks and salt, making possible production very challenging and expensive. Petrobras said it will start producing 100,000 barrels a day at Tupi in 2011 and that the field later could reach a peak output of up to 1 million barrels a day.