Could Brazil have new 'supergiant' oilfields?

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Could Brazil have new 'supergiant' oilfields?

Brazil has several oil and gas discoveries under evaluation, some of which could result in “supergiant” fields, i.e. with more than 5Bb (billion barrels) of recoverable oil, according to a local expert.  

Pedro Zalán, geologist and founder of consultancy ZAG Consultoria em Exploração de Petróleo, said the Aram block operated by federal company Petrobras could result in a field similar to Tupi or even Búzios, which hold 8Bb and 13Bb of recoverable oil, respectively. 

“The Aram discovery already has two wells with very good results. I believe it could become a supergiant field,” he told BNamericas. 

Other highlights mentioned by Zalán are Petrobras’ Alto de Cabo Frio Central; Equinor’s Gávea, Seat and Pão de Açúcar in block BM-C-33; Shell’s Gato do Mato; TotalEnergies’ Marolo (block C-M-541) and Karoon’s discoveries in the Santos basin post-salt. 

Zalán is also optimistic about the Equatorial Margin, given its geological similarities with the Guyana and Suriname basins and the west coast of Africa, as well as the Sergipe-Alagoas basin, where Petrobras has already declared the commerciality of a number of fields.  

ExxonMobil has surrounded Petrobras' assets in the hope of grabbing the extensions of these discoveries. The first well disappointed, but it’s not a well that can doom an entire region,” Zalán said.  

The geologist is not closely following onshore projects, but he is impressed with Eneva

“It’s a fantastic company, developing areas that were underestimated and became producers in the Parnaíba and Amazonas basins, and will additionally develop the Juruá gas province [in the Solimões basin],” Zalán added.   

Marcelo de Assis, director of upstream research for Wood Mackenzie, has a less optimistic view regarding Brazil’s exploration outlook. 

His preliminary estimates for Aram and Alto de Cabo Frio Central consist of 2Bb and 600Mb of recoverable oil, potentially demanding three and one FPSO, respectively.

“These are projects that will probably not have gas commercialization at first, as there should only be room in offshore pipelines later in the decade,” he told BNamericas. 

Assis also mentioned the BM-C-33 and Gato do Mato projects, which are pending a final investment decision (FID). 

Shell recently informed BW Offshore – which had been awarded a limited notice to proceed (LNTP) for the Gato do Mato FPSO – that the project’s FID will not be announced within the next 24 months.    

“This may have stemmed from the impact of inflationary costs. Some rigs had their price increased by 35% in dollar terms from one year to the next, which impacts the final approval of the projects,” Assis said.  

Regarding the Equatorial Margin, the Wood Mackenzie expert said it involves expensive exploration and production development.

“The formations there are not as large as those in the pre-salt and may have to be developed as clusters,” he added. 

Other sensitive points are the long distances from the coast and the strong currents, in addition to the difficulties of environmental licensing. 

“It’s a place with a certain potential, but we don't see it as another pre-salt,” he said.  

Assis foresees Brazil’s oil and gas production potentially declining in the next decade, given the lower-than-expected exploratory results in recent years

Libra resulted in one-third of recoverable volumes compared to what was initially expected. For Mero, 12 FPSOs were expected, but today there are four scheduled,” he said. 

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil saw negative results in the Sergipe-Alagoas and Santos basins, while Shell and Petrobras were not successful in Alto de Cabo Frio Oeste, Saturno and Peroba


Brazil has 16 oil and gas active discovery appraisal plans (PADs in Portuguese), according to watchdog ANP

Half are for projects in the Espírito Santo (4) and Recôncavo (4) basins, with the rest involving assets in the Santos (3), Parnaíba (2), Potiguar (1), Amazonas (1) and Tucano Sul (1) basins. 

In Espírito Santo, Capixaba Energia (Imetame Lagoa Parda) is evaluating discoveries in blocks ES-T-441 and ES-T-487, while BGM and Petrobras are assessing prospects in blocks ES-T-496 and ES-M-669, respectively. 

In Recôncavo, Alvopetro is carrying out PADs in blocks REC-T-182 and REC-T-183, while Recôncavo Energia and Great Energy are working in blocks REC-T-180 and REC-T-107

In Santos, there are active PADs for Petrobras’ Libra and S-M-623 blocks, and Shell’s Sul de Gato do Mato/S-M-518. 

In Parnaíba, Eneva is evaluating discoveries in blocks PN-T-102A and PN-T-48

And, in the Potiguar, Amazonas and Tucano Sul basins, hydrocarbon prospects are being assessed by Petrobras (POT-M-853/POT-M-855), Eneva (AM-T-84/AM-T-85) and Imetame (TUC-T-139/TUC-T-147). 

Nine PADs have been postponed, including Rosneft’s one for its Solimões basin projects SOL-T-169, SOL-T-170 and SOL-T-192, Petrobras’ for the BM-S-24, in Santos, Equinor’s for C-M-539 and PRIO’s for blocks C-M-101 and C-M-61 in the Campos basin

And another seven are currently suspended, such as Imetame’s PADs for blocks SF-T-114 and SF-T-104 in the São Francisco basin, Petrobras’ for BM-BAR-1 and BM-BAR-3 in Barreirinhas, and BM-PAMA-3 in the Pará-Maranhão basin.

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