RIO DE JANEIRO – Oil production has started in the giant deepwater Libra field, which is estimated to hold between 8 billion and 12 billion barrels of crude, Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petrobras said on Monday.
A rig with the capacity to produce 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and 4 million cubic meters per day of natural gas began operating on Sunday, Petrobras, which is the operator for the consortium that won the production rights in the field, said in a statement.
The consortium won the production rights in Libra four years ago and agree to a contract that gives the Brazilian government 41.65 percent of all the oil produced in the offshore field, excluding costs.
Petrobras has a 40 percent stake in the consortium, while Royal Dutch Shell has a 20 percent interest, France’s Total has a 20 percent stake and China’s CNPC and CNOOC Limited each hold 10 percent interests.
The rig is being leased by the Libra consortium from Odebrecht Oleo e Gas (OOG) and Teekay Offshore Partners, which will operate the drilling platform.
The offshore platform has the capacity to drill to a depth of up to 2,400 meters (7,868 feet), Petrobras said.
The rig is operating about 200 kilometers (124 miles) off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
The consortium expects to gradually ramp up production following the long duration tests until it hits 30,000 bpd in early 2018.
During the test phase, which is expected to last nearly a year, Petrobras plans to increase production to between 35,000 bpd and 40,000 bpd while assessing the quality of the field.
Libra, located in the Santos basin, is in the pre-salt zone, which is estimated to hold vast reserves of light crude oil and natural gas at depths of up to 7,000 meters (22,950 feet).
The pre-salt layer is found beneath the sea floor and contains a gel-like deposit of salt that could be up to two kilometers (1.24 miles) thick.