Petrobras hits oil for second time this year in ultra-deep waters of Brazil’s Equatorial Margin

Petrobras got an operating license from IBAMA in October 2023 to drill two oil and gas exploration wells in deep waters in the Potiguar Basin on the Brazilian Equatorial Margin. Under the same environmental license, the company intended to drill the 1-BRSA-1390-RNS (Anhangá) well in the POT-M-762 concession, located 79 km off the coast of Rio Grande do Norte, next to the Pitu Oeste well.

The drilling of the Anhangá well with the 2012-built NS-42 drillship has resulted in the discovery of an oil accumulation located near the border between Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte, about 190 km from Fortaleza and 250 km from Natal, at a water depth of 2,196 meters, on the Brazilian Equatorial Margin. The discovery of Albian-age turbidite reservoirs carrying oil was made through electrical profiles and oil samples, which are expected to be characterized through laboratory analysis.

According to Petrobras, this is the second discovery in the Potiguar Basin in 2024, preceded by proof of the presence of hydrocarbons in the Pitu Oeste Well, located in the BM-POT-17 concession, around 24 km from Anhangá. However, both discoveries require further assessment. To this end, the Brazilian firm is applying geological and geophysical technological solutions. The company will continue its exploratory activities in the POT-M-762_R15 concession, aiming to assess the reservoirs’ quality, the oil’s characteristics, and the technical-commercial viability of the accumulation.

Jean Paul Prates, CEO of Petrobras, commented: “The company has a track record of almost 3,000 wells drilled in deep and ultra-deepwater environments, without any kind of incident or impact on the environment, which, combined with the technical capacity and experience accumulated over almost 70 years, enables the company to open up new frontiers and handle its operations in the Equatorial Margin with total safety.”

Furthermore, the firm underlines that its exploratory activities in the Equatorial Margin represent another step in its commitment to replenishing reserves and developing new exploratory frontiers to ensure that global energy demand is met during the energy transition. Aside from the activities in the Brazilian Equatorial Margin, the Brazilian energy heavyweight acquired new blocks in the Pelotas Basin in southern Brazil and stakes in three exploratory blocks in São Tomé and Príncipe, a country on the west coast of Africa.

Moreover, Petrobras is convinced that the exploratory success in Guyana and Suriname confirms the importance of its campaign in the Brazilian Equatorial Margin Basins, as set out in its Strategic Plan 2024-2028, which entails an investment of $3.1 billion for oil and gas exploration in this area, where the company plans to drill 16 wells during the period. The firm intends to invest $7.5 billion in exploration by 2028 to drill 50 new exploratory wells.

Joelson Mendes, Petrobras’ Exploration and Production Director, remarked: “With the advance of exploratory research in Brazil’s Equatorial Margin, we have increased our knowledge of this region, considered to be a new and promising frontier in ultra-deep waters, which will be fundamental for the company’s future, guaranteeing the supply of oil needed for the country’s development.”

During the next five years, oil and natural gas are expected to be given the biggest slice of Petrobras’ $102 billion investment pie while $11.5 billion is earmarked for projects that will enable a reduction in carbon footprint. The reason behind the high investment in fossil fuels lies in the fact that Brazil sees new oil and gas reserves as strategic and essential for guaranteeing national energy security and sovereignty in the context of the just energy transition.

Petrobras highlighted: “The opening of this new frontier is also in line with the company’s strategic pillar of maximizing the portfolio’s value by focusing on profitable assets, replenishing oil and gas reserves, increasing the supply of natural gas, and promoting the decarbonization of operations.

“If Brazil maintains oil demand at current levels and no new reserves are added, the country could become an oil importer; hence the importance of energy diversification, guaranteeing both oil supply and investments in new low-carbon energies.”