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Brazil Starts New Offshore Libra Well After Mechanical Problem

Brazil said it started drilling a second well at its offshore Libra oil field after a “mechanical problem” forced it to abandon a previous attempt to assess the size of the deepwater reserves.

Drilling of a new well about 370 meters (1,214 feet) away from the first began last week, the press office of the ANP oil regulator said today in an e-mailed response to questions. The ANP said in May, when the first well was started, that it would take about five months to complete.

Brazil’s government is exploring an area known as the pre-salt region as part of a plan to swap oil reserves for new shares in state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Libra, in the Santos Basin, sits near the offshore Franco field, which holds the reserves the government plans to use to buy the stock.

Seismic data indicates that Libra may be larger than Franco, which has an estimated 4.5 billion barrels of recoverable oil, Magda Chambriard, an ANP director, said in May.

Petrobras plans to invest $224 billion dollars over the next five years to expand production at deposits including the pre-salt Tupi field, the largest discovery in the Americas since Mexico’s Cantarell in 1976. Petrobras aims to raise as much as $25 billion from minority investors in a September share sale to help fund investments. The government will buy shares with oil, not cash, to maintain control of the producer.

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