IBP: Upstream Oil Successful, Challenges Remain

Brazil's upstream industry has been successful but challenges remain for the future, according to Jorge Camargo, chairman of the E&P steering committee for Brazil's oil institute (IBP) in Rio de Janeiro.

Challenges include protecting the environment and replacing reserves.

"If we look back 30 years, Brazilian oil production was about 150,000b/d and the country was heavily dependent on oil imports," he said in a presentation at the Latin Upstream Conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil's self-sufficiency in oil and the opening of its upstream sector to private and foreign investors would have been unthinkable then.

"The opening of the Brazilian upstream sector has undoubtedly been a success. Brazil has a modern and transparent environment that has attracted some 60 companies and billions of dollars," he said.

Environmental issues are the biggest challenge facing the industry.

"If we are not able conduct our operations in an environmentally responsible way and convince society that the balance of the economic and environmental impact of our activities is positive, then the future of our industry will be uncertain," Camargo said.

Further, finding new reserves every year to replace production and sustain self-sufficiency is a fundamental task that requires constant and substantial levels of investment.

"Some people in Brazil think that self-sufficiency is like a soccer championship trophy one wins and brings home. Very few know that to sustain its self-sufficiency, Brazil needs to find 1Bboe every year," he said.

E&P investments in 2007-11 are likely to surpass US$52bn. Petrobras will invest 77.3% of this (US$40.8bn) and other companies the remaining 22.7% (US$12bn) he said.

"The industry is investing heavily in the Brazilian upstream sector as never before. As a result, we now are probably in the best position to develop a solid and competitive local supply industry."


Camargo, who also is managing director for Brazil at Norway's state oil company Statoil (NYSE: STO) said environmental licenses remain one of the industry's major obstacles.

While the industry is aware it must act in an environmentally responsible manner, Camargo said the licensing process is slow in Brazil.

"An environmental license to drill and exploration well in Brazil can take two years. It normally takes only two months in Norway," he said.

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