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Brazilian oil and gas

23 March 2012




Brazil recorded the world’s highest number of oil and gas discoveries in 2011, the majority in its subsalt basins. Syed Imran Abbas of GlobalData offers market analysis and production forecasts, and assesses the competitive landscape in the region to 2015.


Brazil recorded the most oil and gas discoveries in 2011 to September, with 19 out of a total of 109 globally. Of the country's 19 oil and gas discoveries, 17 were made in offshore basins in its subsalt region. Brazil's Campos basin was the site of eight discoveries, followed by the Santos basin and the Espirito Santo basin with five discoveries each.

Petrobras dominates subsalt activities in Brazil

Brazil's national oil company Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras) maintains clear dominance over exploration and production activities in the country's offshore and subsalt plays.

"Petrobras maintains a clear lead in oil and gas production volumes in Brazil’s subsalt region."

The company contributes the most in terms of production volumes, investments and exploration. It also holds the highest number of active new exploration and extension licences in all three subsalt basins.

Petrobras operations are backed by the Brazilian Government. As the result of a regulatory decision by Brazil's National Petroleum Agency (ANP), Petrobras is set to be an operator across several blocks in the subsalt prospects and will maintain a minimum 30% equity stake in any future block licences. This is in addition to participation in the licensing rounds conducted by the ANP. Petrobras maintains a clear lead in oil and gas production volumes in Brazil's subsalt region. However, since 2009, the share of production by international companies has started to increase. This is primarily due to the active participation of these companies in the country's licensing rounds for exploration.

Oil and gas production from the Santos, Campos and Espirito Santo basins

The total oil and gas production from Brazil's Santos, Campos and Espirito Santo basins was about 730.5MMboe in 2010.

Among the top 15 fields in these basins, Roncador ranked first with production of 129.7MMboe.

"Brazil recorded a total oil and gas production of 810MMboe in 2011."

This was followed by the Marlim Sul, Marlim, Marlim Leste and Barracuda fields, with production volumes of 99.1MMboe, 95.4MMboe, 56.4MMboe and 40.8MMboe, respectively.

Of the top 15 fields, 14 are located in the Campos basin and one in the Espirito Santo basin. State-owned national oil company Petrobras achieved the highest production in 2010, followed by Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron Corporation.

Oil and gas production from Brazil's offshore and subsalt region: present and future

Oil and gas production from the offshore and subsalt region of Brazil is estimated to increase from 16.2MMboe in 2011 to 216MMboe in 2015. The country recorded a total oil and gas production of about 810MMboe in 2011, and plans to increase its output to 1,200MMboe by 2015. Petrobras intends to increase the share of subsalt oil and gas in the country's total oil and gas production to 18% by 2015.

Global integrated and independent oil companies

Global international and independent oil companies are playing a key role in the development of offshore and subsalt resources in Brazil. International oil companies (IOCs) such as BP, Chevron Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell and StatoilHydro have already started oil and gas production in the offshore Campos basin.

"The BG Group and Statoil are well-established players in Brazil’s E&P sector."

Brazil's government opened its oil and gas exploration and development sector to foreign investment in 1997. Since then, foreign participation in the country's oil and gas sector has been steadily increasing.

The UK's BG Group and StatoilHydro (Statoil) of Norway are well-established foreign players in Brazil's E&P sector. Statoil currently operates three exploration blocks in the offshore Santos and Campos basins.

US-based Anadarko Petroleum Corporation is also actively pursuing subsalt operations in Brazil. As of 2010, the company had exploration interests in a total of seven blocks located in the offshore Campos and Espirito Santo basins. In 2010, it began drilling drilling operations on two wells in block BM-C-29 and made one discovery, Itauna.

Anadarko currently holds multiple deepwater prospects in subsalt Brazil and to date the company has made discoveries at the Itauna, Itaipu, Wahoo and Coalho prospects.

Source: GlobalData Estimates

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Brazil recorded the world's most oil and gas discoveries in 2011 to September, with 19 out of a total of 109.