Brazil Says Offshore Oil Field May be Americas' Biggest Find in 34 Years

Brazil said the government’s Libra field may hold “gigantic” reserves of as much as 15 billion barrels, almost twice initial estimates, which would make it the biggest discovery in the Americas in more than three decades.

Oil was found below a layer of salt at the first exploration well at the government’s field, according to an e-mail sent today by the national petroleum regulator, known as ANP. Brazil drilled to a depth of 5,410 meters (17,750 feet) at the well and may reach 6,500 meters by December, the ANP said.

A deposit of 15 billion barrels would be almost twice the size of state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s nearby Tupi field, would eclipse Brazil’s total current reserve base and also be the biggest find in the Americas since Mexico discovered Cantarell in 1976. Deepwater fields in Brazil’s so-called pre- salt region have yielded the largest discoveries outside the Middle East in the past decade, said Julius Walker, an oil analyst at the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

“Nobody is making discoveries like these anywhere at the moment,” Walker said in a telephone interview today. It “makes deepwater Brazil the most exciting new area.”

Haroldo Lima, the head of the ANP, said yesterday that the field may have 7.9 billion to 16 billion barrels, according to the agency’s press office. The ANP said today that the field may hold between 3.7 billion to 15 billion barrels and that 7.9 billion barrels is the most likely estimate.

Brazil currently has proven reserves of about 14 billion barrels, the ANP said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Millard in Rio de Janeiro at pmillard1@bloomberg.net; Jessica Brice in Sao Paulo at jbrice1@bloomberg.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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