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Brazil’s pre-salt, deep-water discoveries

Pegged at 15 billion barrels by the SPE, Petrobras's pre-salt oil and gas finds may prove highly profitable. PE provides a timeline for Brazil's challenging discoveries


August: Parati well finds first traces of oil in the pre-salt Santos basin (Block BM-S-10).


July: Tupí light oilfield found in Santos basin Block BM-S-11, with the drilling of well I-RJS-628.


March: light-oil deposit found in the Caxaréu field, pre-salt Campos basin.

June: light-oil found in the pre-salt section of the Pirambu field, in the Campos basin.

September: the Carioca light oilfield found in Block BM-S-9.

November: analyses of appraisal work at Tupí made public, showing recoverable oil and natural gas volumes of between 5 billion and 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe).

December: Caramba light oilfield found in Block BM-S-21.


January: Júpiter gas and condensate field found in Block BM-S-24, in the Santos basin.

May: presence of light oil in Santos basin Block BM-S-8: Bem-Te-Vi: confirmed.

June: Guará light oilfield discovered in another sector of Santos basin: Block BM-S-9.

September: light oil confirmed at the Iara prospect, in Santos basin Block BM-S-11. Drilling of well 1-BRSA-559A-RJS completed, confirming the presence of light oil in block BM-S-24, in the area known informally as Júpiter. The discovery was made in January, but drilling was interrupted and only completed in September.

November: two new wells in the pre-salt off the coast of Espírito Santo prove significant light-oil deposits in the Parque das Baleias (Whale Park), north of the Campos basin. Recoverable reserves, made in pre-salt reservoirs underneath the Baleia Franca, Baleia Azul, and Jubarte heavy oilfields, are estimated at between 1.5 billion and 2 billion boe.


April: a consortium of Petrobras (operator; 45%), BG (30%) and Repsol (25%), exploring Block BM-S-9, in the ultra-deep water Santos basin, proves another light oilfield in pre-salt reservoirs. Block BM-S-9 is composed of two assessment areas: Carioca, designated well 1-BRSA-491-SPS (1-SPS-50); and Guará, designated well 1-BRSA-594-SPS (1-SPS-55).

May: extended well test (EWT) starts at Tupí on 1 May. The FPSO BW Cidade de São Vicente, which is used for the Tupí EWT, is capable of processing 30,000 b/d.

June: drilling of the Iracema well: 4-BRSA-711-RJS (4-RJS-647): in the Tupí area adds weight to estimates that the ultra-deep Santos basin pre-salt could hold between 5 billion to 8 billion boe. About 33 km northeast of the Tupí discovery well, the Iracema probe confirms good-quality reservoirs of oil similar to that found in Tupí. Iracema is drilled in water depths of 2,210 metres, 250 km offshore Rio de Janeiro.

August: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sends draft bills of new oil sector rules to Congress. The proposals include the introduction of a production-sharing contract system for the pre-salt. Petrobras will operate all blocks under the scheme with a minimum 30% stake.

September: Petrobras (operator; 45%) proves oil and gas at with a well drilled on the Abaré Oeste prospect, in the ultra-deep Santos basin pre-salt. The field is in Block BM-S-9, about 290 km offshore São Paulo, in water depths of 2,163 metres. Abaré Oeste is the fourth consecutive successful probe drilled at Block BM-S-9.

Testing completed at Guará, in Block BM-S-9. Recoverable reserves are pegged at between 1.1 billion and 2 billion barrels of light oil and gas. Plans for pilot production under way.

November: results from a fourth well in the Tupí Assessment Plan area firms up recoverable reserves of 5 billion to 8 billion boe.


February: with only one well (6-BR-63-RJS), Petrobras finds two new oil accumulations in the Campos basin’s Barracuda field. Estimates indicate the presence of recoverable light crude volumes of around 40 million barrels.

May: the 2-ANP-1-RJS well, drilled in Block BM-S-11, northeast of Iara, hits oil. The field is named Franco. A well on the Libra prospect, also in BM-S-11 and about 13 km from Franco, is drilled at the same time and also hits pre-salt oil.

June: oil shows found in the pre-salt reservoirs at the Albacora Leste field, in the Campos basin. Estimates suggest an accumulation of light crude, but Petrobras says further drilling is necessary to assess the volume, extension and productivity of the reservoir.

July: production from the Baleia Franca comes on stream through well 6-BFR-1-ESS. Initial output is 13,000 b/d and is due to ramp up to 20,000 b/d by the end of the year. Production is pumped to the FPSO Capixaba.

December: an EWT starts at Carimbé, in the Campos basin. The test is run on well 6-CRT-43-RJS, which is linked to the P-48 FPSO, on the Caratinga field. Initial output is 24,000 b/d.

Tupí renamed Lula, after the country’s outgoing president, while Iracema is renamed Cernambi.


January: Carioca Nordeste extension well, 3-SPS-74, drilled in Santos basin Block BM-S-9, hits oil. The well lies in the Carioca prospecting evaluation area.

February: the Macunaíma well, 4-BRSA-818, drilled in Block BM-S-10 hits oil.

May: Appraisal results indicate Libra holds between 4.5 billion and 5 billion barrels of oil. Franco’s recoverable reserves are put at 5 billion to 8 billion barrels, making it the second-largest field in the pre-salt.

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