Petrobras to Pump First Pre-Salt Oil in September

MADRID July 02, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Brazil's state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR) in September plans to start its first production from a field in the so-called pre-salt area, Marcio Felix Carvalho Bezerra, manager of the company's Espirito Santo state unit, told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday.

The field, however, lies in Brazil's Espirito Santo Basin, 500 kilometers north of the recent massive oil discoveries in the pre-salt area of the Santos Basin, where the company recently has made giant oil and gas discoveries.

Brazil's promising pre-salt oil play stretches from waters off Espirito Santo state southward via Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo states to Santa Catarina state.

"President (Luiz Inacio) Lula (da Silva) in Argentina yesterday said that the field will start output in the first week of September," Carvalho Bezerra said. "We will perform a long-term test with one well, using the P-34 platform that is already pumping from the Jubarte field there." Carvalho Bezerra was speaking to Dow Jones on the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress that started here Monday and ends Thursday.

Petrobras eyes an initial output of between 10,000 and 20,000 barrels of oil a day from the Espirito Santo pre-salt field.

The company is already pumping about 52,000 barrels a day from the Jubarte field, which lies in higher geological layers - above the pre-salt area.

The pre-salt oil found below Jubarte lies at a water depth of 1,300 meters and a further 3,700 meters below rocks, sand, the Jubarte oil field, and a layer of salt, the executive explained.

While future oil production from the giant Tupi field and from the promising Carioca find - both in the Santos Basin - is expected to be expensive, the output from below Jubarte will likely be cheaper as the existing platform there can by used, he added.

"It will be a long-term test for the pre-salt area," he said. "Its geological formation is similar to the Santos Basin."

Petrobras earlier said the pre-salt field below Jubarte has potential oil reserves of about 570 million barrels, compared to estimated reserves at Tupi of up to 8 billion barrels.

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