Schlumberger plans Brazil subsalt research center

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 10 Thu Sep 10, 2009 4:39pm EDT

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Oil services giant Schlumberger said on Thursday it would build a research center in Brazil to develop technology for the offshore subsalt fields that have excited the world's biggest energy companies.

Brazil plans to use locally manufactured goods and services, such as drilling rigs and ships, in the challenging development of the vast deep-sea fields in a bid to create jobs and bolster domestic industry as it taps the new energy wealth.

Schlumberger (SLB.N) signed an agreement with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro to build a facility that will develop technology such as new software for oil exploration and production and processing systems for geophysical data.

The company, which is the world's largest oil field services provider, did not specify how much it will invest in the 8,000 square meter (86,111 square feet) facility. The center is slated to be completed within less than a year.

The subsalt fields pose an array of technical challenges, including pumping crude through a thick layer of salt that shifts under geological pressure and ensuring paraffin in the oil does not solidify and block up pipelines in low sub-sea temperatures.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in August proposed legislation that would make state-run Petrobras (PETR4.SA)(PBR.N) the exclusive operator of new subsalt projects and boost state control over the industry. (Reporting by Denise Luna, Writing by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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