RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian state-controlled energy giant Petrobras has approved $224.7 billion in investment outlays for the 2011-2015 period, up $700 million from the previous five-year plan through 2014.
The majority – $127.5 billion – will be allocated to exploration and production, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said Friday in a regulatory filing.
Some 45 percent of the outlays for exploration are earmarked for the pre-salt region, home to ultra-deep crude reserves deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean floor that could transform Brazil into one of the world’s largest oil exporters.
Petrobras also estimates that the pre-salt reserves’ share of national oil production will climb from 2 percent in 2011 to 40.5 percent in 2020.
The pre-salt region is a vast area 800 kilometers (500 miles) long and 200 kilometers (125 miles) wide that was discovered in recent years and has been estimated to hold as much as 80 billion barrels of crude.
But accessing those fields will be very costly and pose an enormous technical challenge because they are located some 150 kilometers (93 miles) offshore at depths of between 5,000-7,000 meters (16,400-22,950 feet) and under a layer of salt up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) thick.
Drastic changes in temperature as the oil is brought to the surface add to the technical complexity of developing the reserves.
Under the plan approved Friday by the company’s board of directors, 31 percent of the investment total, or $70.6 billion, will be allocated for crude refining, transport and sales, and 6 percent, or $13.2 billion, for the natural gas and energy segment.
For the first time, the plan includes a $13.6 billion divestment program aimed at achieving “more efficient management of company assets and profitability.”
Petrobras also said in the filing that it plans to “double its proven reserves,” which currently stand at about 15 billion barrels, by 2020.
The plan earmarks 95 percent of the investment outlays – $213.5 billion – for Petrobras’ operations in Brazil and just 5 percent for those abroad.
It encompasses a total of 688 projects and allocates 57 percent of the investment to programs previously authorized for execution.
The company will hold a press conference on Monday to analyze the plan’s content.