Maranhao state may have oil reserves similar to Campos Basin

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The Brazilian Maranhao state in the northeastern part of the country may have offshore oil deposits similar in size to the Campos Basin, which produces 85% of the country’s oil, Maranhao Governor Jackson Lago has said. Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Petrobras and Devon Energy Corp have found oil in deep waters in the Barreirinhas Basin, 160 kilometres (99 miles) off the coast of Sao Luis, the state’s capital, Lago said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro. The Campos Basin has produced an average of 1.65 million barrels a day this year, Petrobras, said on its website. The companies are still determining if the find is commercially viable, Lago said.

Maranhao state in northeast Brazil is luring more spending on oil refining, steelmaking and pulp as ports expand at Sao Luis, which is five days closer to Europe and the US by ship than Brazilian ports farther south, Lago said. Petrobras is building a $19.8 billion premium-products refinery 30 kilometres from Sao Luis, which may start exporting to Europe and North America in 2013, he said.

“There are indications of a major oil province there, probably like Campos,” Lago said. “The refinery in the future may be able to use oil from Barreirinhas.”

Devon, which operates an oil block off Sao Luis, reported the discovery of natural gas earlier this month to Brazil’s energy agency.

India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd, ONGC, is also exploring in Barreirinhas. In Maranhao’s onshore Parnaiba Basin, Devon, Petrobras and Cia Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s largest iron-ore producer, are among companies with exploration rights.

OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA, the oil and gas company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, has said it expects to find light oil and gas in the Para-Maranhao Basin, adjacent to Barreirinhas. Petrobras, Vale and Ecopetrol SA, Colombia’s state-controlled oil company, also have exploration concessions in Para-Maranhao.

Lago said the Maranhao government is negotiating the installation of two Rio de Janeiro-based shipbuilders to support oil industry growth in the region. “We’re in advanced talks with Estaleiro Maua for building drilling rigs for deepwater exploration and with Eisa for shipbuilding,” he said.

Bloomburg News

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