RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 18 (Reuters) - A giant oil and gas discovery off the coast of Brazil's Sergipe state holds enough hydrocarbons for state-run Petrobras and its Indian partners to build an expensive undersea natural-gas pipeline and expand development beyond two scheduled production ships, a company official said on Thursday.
Petrobras, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA , has said it expects to install a 100,000-barrel-a-day floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) ship in the area in 2018 and another in 2020. Petrobras expects to take bids to build the first FPSO in November.
"These discoveries will require various other production systems but we have planned two so far," Claudio Madeira, geological interpretation manager for Petrobras, said at an industry event in Rio de Janeiro. "A gas pipeline will be built for this area."
The pipeline is needed to carry natural gas to shore from the from the FPSOs, he said. Oil will be loaded direct from the FPSOs to tankers.
A growing number of analysts as well as Sergipe state officials have criticized what they believe are delays in developing the discovery. Sergipe holds higher-grade oil in less technically demanding reservoirs than those near Rio de Janeiro, which have received the bulk of Petrobras' recent investment but are years behind schedule.
While Madeira said Petrobras is still evaluating how much oil and gas has been found in the area's wells, some as far as 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the country's northeastern Atlantic coast, government and industry officials told Reuters a year ago they contain at least 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil.
That's enough to meet all the needs in the United States, the world's largest oil consumer, for nearly two months. It's also enough to make Sergipe Brazil's the biggest new oil region since the 2007 announcement of the subsalt, a series of giant reserves near Rio de Janeiro trapped deep beneath the seabed by a layer of mineral salts.
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