Some 45 per cent 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 per cent in 2011 to 40.5 per cent in 2020. The pre-salt region is a vast area 800-km-long and 200-km 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 150km offshore at depths of between 5,000-7,000 metres and under a layer of salt up to 2km 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 by the company’s board of directors, 31 per cent of the investment total, or $70.6 billion, will be allocated for crude refining, transport and sales, and 6 per cent, or $13.2 billion, for the natural gas and energy segment.
For the first time, the plan includes a $13.6 billion divestment programme 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 per cent of the investment outlays — $213.5 billion — for Petrobras’ operations in Brazil and just 5 per cent for those abroad. It encompasses a total of 688 projects and allocates 57 per cent of the investment to programs previously authorised for execution.