Petrobras Signs a Schist Study Agreement in Morocco

Petrobras and the Moroccan National Office for Hydrocarbons and Mines (ONHYM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at elaborating viability studies for commercial schist (oil-generating bituminous rocks) field development in block Timahdit 2, in Morocco.

Carried out by Petrobras' International and Downstream teams, in cooperation with ONHYM technicians, the evaluation studies will be undertaken for a maximum 24-month term and will encompass environmental, economic, technical, commercial, and legal issues.

The document was signed by Ms. Amina Benkhadra, the general director for ONHYM, and by Petrobras Europe's New Business manager, Demarco Epifanio, who represented the executive manager for the International-Business Development Area, Luis Carlos Moreira da Silva. The Brazilian Ambassador to Morocco, Mr. Carlos Alberto Simas Magalhaes, also attended the event.

Block Timahdit 2 is located 240 kilometers away from Rabat, in an area of nearly 94 square kilometers, about 58 times bigger than the mine Petrobras where produces in Brazil, in Sao Mateus do Sul, which ranges 1.6 square kilometer.

Depending on study results, mining is not expected to include the entire Timahdit 2 block, but its huge dimensions were one of the criteria used to select it. Other criteria were oil content, and the availability of technical data and geological characterization studies. The ONHYM has been researching and undertaking several projects since 1970, including building a pilot oil production plant in Timahdit.

Petrobras' technical teams have been working on the partnership's development, alongside the Moroccan Agency's representatives, since 2006. The goal is to evaluate the deployment of a production unit in Morocco using Petrobras' Petrosix® technology to exploit the schist.

It is estimated Morocco's total bituminous rock resources reach 95 billion tons (the world's 6th biggest), containing total oil reserves in the range of 50 billion barrels.

Advanced, non-polluting technology

Petrobras owns the world's most advanced technology to extract oil from bituminous rocks: the Petrosix® Process. The company started using this technology in the 1950's. The Prototype Plant was built in the 1970's and the industrial scale unit has been in commercial operation since 1991, producing oil, fuel gas, liquefied gas, and other byproducts. In addition to not generating residues, Petrobras' production unit complies with strict environmental protection norms.

The scenario of scarce, high-priced oil has attracted attention and investments to new sources of energy, among which bituminous rocks, the product of which is very similar to oil wells'. Petrobras has been invited by different companies and countries to contribute with its Petrosix technology in oil-production unit development.

Several countries are considering retaking or expanding their bituminous rock oil extraction production units, among which the United States, Morocco, Jordan, Australia, Estonia, and China, among others.