ExxonMobil Notifies Brazil ANP of 2nd Find at BM-S-22

RIO DE JANEIRO (Dow Jones Newswires), Mar. 4, 2009

The Brazilian unit of global oil titan ExxonMobil Corp. notified Brazil's National Petroleum Agency that it had made a second oil discovery at the BM-S-22 offshore block.

In a routine filing with the ANP, Exxon said that it had once again discovered traces of oil in a well drilled in the Santos Basin's BM-S-22 block. In January, Exxon said it had discovered oil in the same 1ESSO3SPS well.

ExxonMobil's local press office confirmed that discovery, which was dated Feb. 17 but posted on the ANP's Web site late Tuesday, was new but declined to give any further details. It's unclear if the find was made after deeper drilling of the well.

ExxonMobil holds a 40% operating stake in the block. Hess Corp. also has a 40% share, while Brazilian state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro holds the remaining 20% stake.

The BM-S-22 block was the last to be drilled in a promising region that could hold deposits of up to 33 billion barrels of oil equivalent, or BOE, government officials have said. The block is part of a cluster of four blocks that contain a gigantic geographical structure, which industry experts and analysts believe could contain several discoveries the size of Petrobras' Tupi find.

The structure crosses the BM-S-8, BM-S-9, BM-S-21 and BM-S-22 blocks.

In April 2008, the head of the ANP caused a stir when he said reserves in the area around the Carioca find in the BM-S-9 block could be 33 billion barrels of oil equivalent. Petrobras officials, however, declined to confirm the estimate and said that further drilling was needed before any estimate on volumes could be made.

Petrobras is the leading stakeholder in many of the exploration blocks in Brazil's promising offshore subsalt region. While many exploration wells have shown signs of oil, the only reserve estimate has been for the Tupi and Iara finds.

In November 2007, Petrobras estimated that recoverable reserves at Tupi could contain between 5 billion and 8 billion BOE. A separate portion of the same BM-S-11 block also holds the Iara find, which holds estimated reserves of between 3 billion and 4 billion BOE.

Oil companies operating in Brazil must inform the ANP of indications of oil, gas or hydrocarbons in any exploratory well within 72 hours. The disclosures are routine, and do not indicate commercial viability.

ANP officials were not available to comment about the delay in releasing details of the discovery when contacted by Dow Jones Newswires.  

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