Clarification on Carioca (reported discovery in Santos Basin)

[Update: The Brasilian press is reporting wide criticism to Haroldo Lima who at the moment is denying he announced the find: “I haven't announced anything, nor did I used that word [anoucement] at any moment.” (hat tip Carolus Obscurus).]

Reuters reported yesterday:

Haroldo Lima told reporters the find, known as Carioca, could contain 33 billion barrels of oil equivalent, five times the recent giant Tupi discovery. That would further boost Brazil's prospects as an important world oil province and the source of new crude in the Americas.

"It could be the world's biggest discovery in the past 30 years, and the world's third-biggest currently active field," Lima, head of the government's oil and fuel market regulator, told reporters at an industry event in Rio de Janeiro.

Lima said he obtained the data from Petrobras at an informal level. But the National Petroleum Agency distanced itself from Lima's remarks, saying in a statement that they were "unofficial" and simply repeated information already in the public domain.

"All the data were already in the public domain, having even been published in the February edition of World Oil magazine, in the 'What's new in exploration' column signed by Arthur Berman," the agency said in a statement.

Hours ago Petrobras issued a clarification on its Portuguese language website:

The consortium formed by Petrobras (45%-operator), BG (30%) and Repsol YPF Brasil (25%) continues following the exploratory program of Block BM-S-9 in the Santos Basin. The Block is composed by two exploratory areas. In the larger was drilled the first well, 1-BRSA-491-SPS (1-SPS-50) that resulted in the discovery announced in the 5th of September of 2007. At the occasion the market was informed that new investments are needed, that would contemplate the drilling of new wells, and whose Assessment Plan is in the initial phase of elaboration and should be formalized at ANP [National Petroleum Agency] in the next few days.

According to the regular exploration chronogram, the Company started in the 22nd of March of 2008 the drilling of the second well, the 1-BRSD-594-SPS (1-SPS-55) situated in the smaller area of the Block, but that up to the moment has not reached the pre-salt layer. The continuity of the exploratory activities includes the drilling of new wells, test of long term formation and new geologic studies to ascertain the size of the discovery.

More conclusive data on the potential of the discovery will be known only after the conclusion of the remaining phases of the assessment process and will be informed to the market opportunely.

The emphasis is present in the original text.

The second area is smaller than that announced in September and has not yet been reached by drilling. In light of this new information it seems unlikely at the moment that the find will represent the volume implied by Haroldo Lima.

Still, as reported last November, Tupi is possibly just the first of a series of fields that may compose an entirely new oil region enclosed in the Santos Basin. Hence new discoveries of significant volume in this area are likely.

Luís de Sousa,
The Oil Drum: Europe

Luis - just for the sake of absolute clarity. The new well has not yet reached the target reservoir and this claim of 33 Gbs is total hype by a government official talking out of turn. Which just by chance has sent the shares in BG Group, Repsol and Petrobras skywards today dragging the whole of the world oil equities market with them.


they are not even through the salt yet.

Such an announcent like this in the UK or US would get your collar felt...

Unfortunately, he is unlikely to suffer any retaliation in Brazil. We have worse cases to prosecute.

What is funny is that, after being recorded making the anouncement, he now denies it!

One might wonder why ANP Director Lima got his statement
"slip up"
. It won't have to do with shares, will it? Of course not: Still on Tuesday night Lima declared that he had not had any intention to provoke a speculative movement in the stocks marketwith his declaration about the Carioca field. He admitted to have learnt that many people lose or made money by applications in Petrobras shares, as already had happened in several other opportunities in Brasil (this sentence is not really clear to me - maybe he just said it so or it is due to my limited Portugese).

Brazil ANP head criticized over oil field estimate

Damn right, and I said the same thing that Petrobras did over at Energy Bulletin.

I see my friend Art Berman did a World Oil Magazine column on this, so I'll have to take a look at it.

We can all expect the world to get crazier as the oil price rises.

-- Dave

Should this article by S.S. Penner be considered a manifestation of a "crazier world"?

Wasn't this well drilled down to a depth never achieved before? Weren't there technological hurdles to overcome to extract the oil? I'm just curious if anyone has a link or more information about this.

Other wells have been drilled down to the pre-salt layer in the Santos Basin. In this particular area of Carioca none has done so. Information about a particular well where drilling started less than one month ago can't be that much.

There have been deeper wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Take a look at the Jack Project led by Chevron. There were wells approaching 30,000 feet below surface drilled into Oklahoma mainly for gas sometimes oil. I read a rumor of deep wells in the Caspian Azeri area that I could not confirm.

The Tupi project is expected to yield up to one million barrels per day and take about nine years to develop.

This subsalt strata is likely to yield more finds.

Brazil is fascinating enough in itself, but more fascinating to me is the whole South American offshore region and by extension the world oil production balance.

As Luis de Sousa says, "Tupi is possibly just the first of a series of fields that may compose an entirely new oil region enclosed in the Santos Basin. Hence new discoveries of significant volume in this area are likely."

The question is, what are we talking about when we say "significant volume" and big a series of new fields? Just the other day there was a link here on TOD to the possibility of sizable finds offshore Uruguay, finds offshore Argintina are now to be considered fully possible, and even the Falkland Islands has been mentioned.

Given world consumption today, it takes absolutely huge oil finds and development of said finds to have any real effect on oil markets. Could these finds make moot the idea of peak oil? Almost certainly not. But they could alter timing by some time, and create an interesting new balance of power in the oil producing group of nations.

The news just the other day that a Russian official had stated that Russia was for all practical purposes peaked would be a huge factor in rebalancing the power relationship. If Russia is indeed on the decline, while areas such as South America and West Africa are on the increase, it portends a major geopolitical shift in the world of oil production and petro power politics. Vladimir Putin had been getting pretty cocky about all the ways he hopes to use the petro weapon. Now, he and his successors may have to re-evaluate their options.

Of course, the wildcard is still Saudi Arabia. They have been very coy this time around, unlike the 1970's. They NEVER use the word, but they have been operating a defacto partial embargo for the last several years. But it is a cloaked embargo, and one that may not be intentional, if you accept the theory that KSA simply cannot raise production appreciably. Either way, the Saudi's do not have to "withhold " production to hold oil production flat, all they have to do is delay turning up investment. Either would have the same effect.

The question is, at what point will the confluence of events in the world have a real effect on the markets and break us out of the current paradigm, either to the upside on price or to the downside?

American and European oil consumption is beginning to flatten due to recession and a greater concern on the part of the auto buyer about fuel economy. Canada, West Africa, Brazil, and even the U.S. have the possibility of raising oil production, the U.S. very little, Canada some, Brazil and West Africa considerably more. But Mexico, the North Sea, and Russia seem to be at the top of possible production, at least for some time in the future, perhaps forever.

Saudi Arabia? Who can even guess. They may be at the top of possible production, or they may still have a considerable amount of oil up their sleeves to meter out as suits their needs. Do the Saudi's see the possibility of the non OPEC producers and new oil finds in South America and Africa combined with flat or declining American and European consumption being great enough to glut the market?

Or do the Saudi's feel that the developing nations, China and India, will more than swallow up any new production, and with declining production in Mexico, Russia and the North Sea it will make the possibility of glut improbable if not completely impossible? If so, how will OPEC react? Can they afford to "shoot the moon" on price, and not worry about competition or consuption restraint (conservation)? Or at some point, will they step in and stabilize oil markets? Even if they want to, can they?

So for my own benefit, in an attempt to clarify the unclarifiable, I draw a few conclusions:

(a) Once more I state my assessment that predicting peak oil down to the year or even to the decade is a statistical impossibility. The lack of information is too great and the variables too many. This does not mean peak oil is not a danger. Quite the contrary: It is all the more dangerous because of it's unpredictability, making it very difficult if not impossible to plan for.

(b) The implications of decisions made now, both on the production and consumption side, will take years, possiblly decades to play out. Huge sums of capital and long periods of time are required to change anything in the oil business, in fact in the energy business in general.

(c) Plans laid now based on current "facts" are an extreme risk. Planning for possible glut and price decline in the energy markets may seem foolish, but likewise planning for shortages, ever higher prices, and catastrophic collapse may turn out to be wasteful of years and money and look just as foolish a few years down the road. Once more we are reminded of the concept of "hedging". And we are not talking about the way that word has been abused recently (such as "hedge fund") but real hedging, i.e., being prepared to weather any eventuality as best as possible, "case hardening" economies, cultures and systems to sustain change in any direction.

(d) Other issues may well drawf concerns about oil depletion, and force action that will be completley unconnected to the depletion issue, but will have a major effect upon it. Carbon release is assured if we find large major new oil fields. Is there a point wherein we may begin to place a penelty on oil and coal use, not because they are in short supply, but because they are heavy carbon fuels?

(e)Lastly, and most controversially, I am more and more convinced each day that there will certainly be more than enough oil to transition to a new "renewable age". I am convinced that renewables and advanced efficiency technology is and has been smeared and slandered based on little or no use of real evidence. There is a large contigent who have a vested interest in seeing the renewables marginalized, and will use the tool of prospective peak oil as a tool to do it. The main reason we will not transition to a new renewable low carbon technology is not because there is not enough oil to do it. It is because we want to keep burning the oil that remains.

(e)Advice on how to cope: Think about, study, and teach your children about COMPLEXITY. If you yearn for the simple, primitive life, sadly, you were born into the wrong age.


Re: Complexity... Always a good place to start:

I, Pencil

George (formerly in Vermont)


I'll probably remember this every time I pick up a pencil.

It was a very humbling read for me.


Reminds of the story I read somewhere about the efforts NASA had expended developing a pen that would write in zero gravity. The Russians just used pencils ;-)

Re: Teaching our children about complexity.

We already do this, many times over. It's called our education/work paradigm. It creates highly specialized people who know very little about the world beyond their immediate field. If the transition to renewable energy is handled properly then it won't matter all that much. But if it isn't - and we have already started in a very bad way (oil wars, famines, climate change) - learning very basic skills like how to grow a tomato will matter a great deal.

Case in point: I visited a large nursery the other day and got to talking with the owner. He proudly told me how he produces tens of thousands of tomato plant seedlings every spring for sale to amateurs (backyard vegetable gardens). He then laughed and said: "Thousands may PLANT tomatoes, but very few EAT tomatoes. They rot, fall prey to diseases and bugs, etc. Those guys have NO IDEA how to grow tomatoes".

Sorry if this seems pedantic, but wouldn't the farmer have said:
"Very few may plant tomatoes, but thousands eat tomatoes..." ??

No, he wouldn't. Please read carefully and the meaning should be clear.

Ha ! Sorry, really slow this morning !

Planning for possible glut and price decline in the energy markets may seem foolish, but likewise planning for shortages, ever higher prices, and catastrophic collapse may turn out to be wasteful of years and money and look just as foolish a few years down the road.

I am convinced that renewables and advanced efficiency technology is and has been smeared and slandered based on little or no use of real evidence.

Yes, and you provide a very good example of this "smearing" when you dismisse planning for shortages and even higher prices.


You are exactly right, and I am in exactly wrong, at least in the way I phrased what I said. Blush on my part :-(

What I was and am attempting to describe is a method of preperation which allows a person to prosper even if the event he/she is preparing for does not occur on schedule, i.e., the event is mis-timed. So I did not intend to discount preperation, but was commenting on how badly foolish one can look if they disrupt their whole life, investments, education and that of their children in an attempt to prepare for something that will indeed happen, but happens sooner or later by a considerable margin than expected.

I am not sure there is a good word in our lexicon to describe preparedness for something, but preparedness for being wrong about the same event. This would include the ability to prepare for being right, but also the ability to be ready for being wrong, if not in fact, but only in timing. It is complex.

I guess the best phrase in English is the one I sometimes use, "case hardening", in which the system (company, nation, state, family) finds methods to "harden" it's ability to withstand energy shock but does so without dismantling or abandoning the system per se.

That's as close as I can get for now.


I could add an (f):

Even at this late date, and even after we are definitely post peak, there will still be a few fields out there awaiting discovery. The discoveries will keep trickling in, some years a few, other years none at all. Every once in a while a jackpot will be hit and an exceptionally large field will be discovered. These may happen, but they will be increasingly few and far between. One data point does not make a trend, though. While the ignorant press and ideologues with an agenda to promote will be quick to latch on such news as evidence of a turnaround or a refutation of peak oil, the fact of the continuing and inexorable depletion of existing reserves will remain a stubborn fact.

another excellent post and I think this statement says it very well.

The main reason we will not transition to a new renewable low carbon technology is not because there is not enough oil to do it. It is because we want to keep burning the oil that remains.

Every year that the transition is not begun, makes it that much harder to even do a transition.
All the resources keep increasing in cost, so with our present economic system, continuously greater numbers of people cannot afford to make transitional plans, especially those who become unemployed.

I have to disagree wholeheartedly with a). It certainly is possible to predict the decade peak oil would occur in. Hubbert did it a long time ago. And he would have been right had it not been for the oil shocks of the 70s. The shocks didnt really make his predictions wrong, because he wasnt predicting the effect of oil shocks. All he was predicting was a simple curve that would have played out if geopolitics hadnt intervened. Because the rate of production growth was reduced so greatly during the 70s, it meant that a new peak had to be calculated. In order to calculate the new peak, all we had to do was chop off the top of the hubbert curve and use that chunk of data to calculate how much more oil we would have consumed had we not had the shocks. And then calculate the difference, divide that by yearly consumption, and add it to the old date. It comes out to about 2005. Give or take half a decade. There is no way the calculations can be off by more than a few years. It would take 300 billion barrels of deepwater discoveries in order to move the peak by any measurable amount. Technology can also push forward the peak by a few years, in much the same way that tipping a jug of absopure allows the water to come out faster. But even with all our technology, we've only increased the recovery ratios by 20% at most. And it costed a heck of a lot of oil to bring us that technology. The unnaturally low output from Iraq more than offsets any extraction gains new technology has brought. It would take 8mbpd of output from Iraq to push the peak out beyond 2010. But obviously there is no way that is going to happen by 2010. Just like there is no way these new discoveries in south america are going to be producing by then.

"Carioca, could contain 33 billion barrels of oil equivalent, five times the recent giant Tupi discovery."

reading this at face value, one would have to conclude that the 33 billion boe is oil in place. applying a guestimate of recoverable from this figure does not equate to "reserves" (by sec guidelines). technology to produce oil in 2000m of water hasnt been invented*.

tupi is in the same boat. bg has apparently refered to "reserve" estimates for tupi in press releases.

*total is producing in about 1300m water offshore west africa. as far as i know this is the greatest water depth of any producing offshore field.

Petrobras usually quotes recoverable reserves numbers, but since all this looks like hype who knows?

Petrobras is currently producing oil at depths just over 1800 metres. In the Gulf of Mexico I think these depths are also being reached.

The financial viability of oil production at such depths is unknown (Petrobras might be an important case in understanding this). As for EROEI it's anyone's guess.
Tupi holds between 5 to 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil, so 7*5= 35 billion barrels recoverable..(not oil in place)
I´m not sure, but i think that with 4D seismic surveys it´s possible to have a aproximate idea of what is underneath the salt, so there's the 33 billion estimative...

Greenland, Brasil, Angola, Iraq, Caspian Sea...perhaps the peak is far away...

Exactly. Recovering oil at these greater depths must be accomplished with new technology before they can be considered recoverable reserves. Is that possible and if so how long will it take to achieve? There are many unknowns, however one thing is obvious and that is oil is getting harder to find and more expensive to extract.

Do we have any idea of the characteristics (light sweet, heavy) of the oil in this area?

No, the drill hasn't got there yet...

The oil price is at 3 Yergins ($114 in the after-market electronic trading and Russia appears to have peaked. Even if the find in Brazil were as big as was initially reported it will take years to develop I doubt they could get flow rates sufficient to compensate the Russian decline yet alone to keep up with the market demand.

When people will refuse to buy the stuff, use more efficient transport, switch to natural gas, or start walking then the price might come tumbling down.

There are scooters that get 70-80 miles per gallon (3.8 liters).

This is the first time I have seen scooters mentioned on TOD, though I must admit to be new to this. Asia has zillions of
scooters. Schoolkids use it to go to school, commuters of
all ages use it to get to work. Families of 4-5 people can
be seen on them (ok, not so safe). In Thailand, I don't have a car, and my "Honda Wave 125" takes about a gallon, costs me
US$ 4 to fill, and takes me about 140 kms (about 80
miles) between refills. Lower operating costs, insurance, less space on the road, so easy to park, and no problem in traffic. I have never understood why there's so much "cultural opposition" to this form of transport.

We have sleet, snow, ice and hail for 6-7 months of the year. Snow tires on cars feature deep treads and metal studs for traction on ice and snow. I can't imagine trying to manage a scooter in driving conditions like that - LOL! If not for winter, I'd love to have a scooter.

This is the first time I have seen scooters mentioned on TOD, though I must admit to be new to this.

Google search results of TOD for "scooter." 6 pages of hits. You just hafta look!

According to Reuters:

"All the data were already in the public domain, having even been published in the February edition of World Oil magazine, in the 'What's new in exploration' column signed by Arthur Berman," the agency said in a statement.

How come it took approx. 10 weeks for somebody else to spot this 'breaking news'?

Lots of links and stories at Another find.. Fresh oil and gas find in Brazil. member OilFinder (now OilFinder2, ate a bad cookie it seems) keeps track of most every find worldwide, and reported the Carioca field on Feb 7.

In former Petrobras employee Marcio Mello has some interesting statements:

"That whole area contains reserves of at least 50 billion barrels, as a conservative estimate," said Marcio Mello, for 26 years a researcher at Petrobras’ technology centre, who is now a partner in the consulting firm HRT Petroleum and head of the Brazilian Association of Petroleum Geologists (ABGP).

The government quotes a figure of 70 billion barrels in the three basins, and some people venture an estimate of over 100 billion barrels. If proven, Brazil’s reserves would approximately match those of high volume exporters like Kuwait and Venezuela, although they could not compare with Saudi Arabia’s.

There are other promising marine areas in the south of the Gulf of Mexico and the waters off of Venezuela, but all these new frontiers will not have much effect on the world crude market, in Mello’s view. The present high prices of crude are due to the time-lag between finding oil and beginning to extract it, he said.

In Tupí, for example, it will take around eight years to reach full production, and the whole of its reserves would only meet world consumption needs for three months. Finding other oilfields in the basin will demand huge investment, time, and many exploratory wells dispersed throughout an area four times the size of Switzerland.

For all these reasons, as well as increasing domestic demand for oil-based fuels, Brazil will not become a leading exporter of oil, Mello said.



There's a report in today's 'Jornal do Brasil' online stating that according to Petrobras it will take at least three months to calculate the volume of Carioca reserves. It also states that Director General Haroldo Lima denies that he ever announced the discovery of giant reserves. Hope nothing got lost in translation.

See here:

Thanks for point this out. Petrobras drilled 15 wells at Tupi before they anounced anything, so I don't think that three months will be enough for the company to conclude much.

So let me ask a question to see if I am picking up this peak oil stuff.

Even if this Discovery (or others that are announced) has a HUGE amount of oil in it, the RATE of production that it may provide in terms of world oil production will not be materially enough for a long enough length of time to prevent or reduce the decline in world oil production or postpone the inevitable supply vs. demand problem that the world faces in the near future.

Am I getting it?

Petrobras claims Tupi will be producing around 1million bpd by 2012, so i assume the new find (if it is that (33bb) big) can produce around 3-4 m bpd. Perhaps Brasil, alone, can compensate the russia decline by 2015...

I can't find any claim by Petrobras that "Tupi will be producing around 1 million bpd by 2012". Reference please?

here: (portuguese)

Pilot extraction between 2009 and 2010, (two years at 100.000 bpd), then full power at 1 million/day.

Ok I see the claim for 100k bpd pilot operation running for two years starting about 2010 but I don't see a claim that 1 million bpd will then be reached immediately after that. The article seems to me to be saying that the field might one day peak at 1 million bpd but that's not going to happen in 2012.

Here's an extract of a Google translated version of the article.
Petrobras plans to start exploration of the field of Tupi, participated by Galp in 2008

The first phase of exploration includes the so-called test of long-term, which will last about six months, with a daily production from 30 thousand barrels a day and 40 thousand barrels a day.

"We want to start the trial of long duration at the end of 2008. We must run against time, but we will accelerate the whole process. The pilot project is expected to be launched between 2009 and 2010," said Director of Exploration and Production of Petrobras, Guilheme Estrella.

The Brazilian state is already assessing vessels of medium businesses at the end of construction available on the market for use in initial tests of the field of Tupi.

After the so-called test of long duration, it is planned to install a pilot project, with a production of 100 thousand barrels / day for two years.

The project also included the construction of a gas pipeline to link the field of Tupi infrastructure already in the basin of Santos.

The Tupi should produce about one million barrels per day, more than half of the current production capacity of Petrobras, according to the first exploratory work done in the field.

The field should still produce nearly 33 million cubic metres of natural gas per day.

I was in Rio last week and there is no doubt that there is great deal of optimism within Petrobras that the Carioca Field will be enormous. Petrobras are currently negotiating a contract for an FPSO (Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading) and hope to have first oil from Tupi in Q2 of 2009. Petrobras have already contracted an FPSO to operate in 2600 m of water in the US Gulf (Chinook and Cascade Fields) so there is no technical challenge of operating in the depth of water over the Tupi Field. Estrella was orignally over optimistic when suggesting first oil from the TLD (Test, Long Duration) unit in 2008. I am inclined to agree with others who believe that we will find enough oil to see us safely over to other sources of energy - but we will have a choppy time during the transit period - and particularly during the next 1-2 years. The 8 billion bbls is recoverable for Tupi.

Plan for Tupi: TLD production of 30 000 BBL/day commencing from Q2 2009
Pilot: 100 000 BBL/day commencing Q2 2010
Full Production by perhaps 2015 of 1 000 000 BBL/day. (Requiring approx 10 floating production units).

As I reported last November, production through a 2000 metre layer of salt is not a solved matter yet.

yes, you´re right, my mistake

The top five net oil exporters (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and UAE), comprising about half of world net oil exports, showed an estimated average decline of about 900,000 bpd per year in 2006 and 2007, on track to approach our (Khebab/Brown) middle case of zero net oil exports by 2031.

Also, when Hubbert did his original work in the Lower 48, he found that a one-third increase in URR only delayed the peak by five years.

Any way you look at it, it tends to be difficult to maintain an infinite rate of increase against a finite resource base.

I wish that you people would put your contact email in your profile.
I feel it is better to email info like this, rather then having to post stuff that has been explained before in so many different ways.


You understand the problem well.
World reserves are depleting at least 3% per year, which is about 2 mbd.
All new discoveries and heavy oils have barely been able to keep supply at around 85 mbd for the last few years, therefore the price of oil just keeps on rising.
Depletion is exccelerating as more countries go into decline.
At that rate, we loose 6 mbd in 3 years , but Depletion is accelerating .
All these new oil finds together are too small to make much difference in peak oil perspective.
You need to read the articles on TOD about the Export Land Model of oil depletion.

The world is in much worse shape then anyone can imagine, but it is not obvious yet to most people who do not read the articles about rising world food prices, starvation, fuel shortages, electricity shortages, that have now started in many countries, and this will continue expanding and eventually reach us to the same extent.



Statistically, there are between 200 and 250 GB of oil left** to be discovered in the world. These finds are not unexpected.

Edit: ** Not including the reserve growth on previous discoveries

From Petrobas international site there is the suggestion that Tupi , Carioca , Santos are in fact part of a huge new province ,
they mention the fact that four out of four pre-salt wells came up positive , in itself this would suggest a really BIG find

amongst the questions

- 7000 m deep is staggering and offshore too !! congratulations on the teams this is brilliant drilling

- how much oil is in the very deep offshore ?, Brazil has mirror geological formations with the matching African coast

- The cost of developing such a find is going to require pockets as deep as the wells ,
20 billions for exploration-development before oil flow is a good starting figure
100 billions for full production a not unreasonable guesstimate

- I'm a believer of Peak oil but this raise some questions as to the Peak becoming a plateau

- this and other very deep find tend to put questions on the classical theory of oil formation ,
biotic debris in shallow sedimentary layers
did anyone saw the coffin cracking open of the old non-biotic theory ???