The Libra field, located nearly 180km off the shore of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil’s pre-salt Santos Basin, has commenced oil production.

The field is operated by Petrobras with 40% interest.

Total and Shell each hold a 20% stake, while CNOOC and CNPC hold equal stake in the remaining interest.

The first production started from the floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit Pioneiro de Libra, which has a capacity of 50,000 barrels of oil.

"Libra is a major asset in Total’s portfolio and fits into our strategy of investing in highly competitive projects with low break-even points."

The start-up of the early production system is expected to generate revenue for the partners, as well as enable the procurement of technical data that will help to optimise subsequent development phases.

Total Exploration & Production president Arnaud Breuillac said: “Total is pleased that production has begun on the giant Libra field, which is a multi-billion barrel resource.

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“Libra is a major asset in Total’s portfolio and fits into our strategy of investing in highly competitive projects with low break-even points.

“The start-up is a major step in the development of this field, and Total is bringing its deep offshore expertise to the project.”

The next phase of development will see the commencement of production from the 150,000 barrels per day-capacity Libra 1 FPSO, followed by the initiation of further production units.

Total Exploration & Production’s portfolio of Brazilian assets currently comprises 15 exploration blocks situated across the Barreirinhas, Ceará, Espirito Santo, Foz do Amazonas and Pelotas basins.

Total previously signed agreements relating to multiple Brazil-based upstream and downstream assets with Petrobras in February.

The deal provides Total a 22.5% stake in the Iara concession area in Block BM-S-11, as well as operatorship and 35% stake in Block BM-S-9 of the Lapa field concession.

Both companies also agreed to strengthen their technical cooperation by developing new technologies and collaboratively exploring prospective regions in Brazil.

The transaction is subject to relevant regulatory approvals.