Plowing $8 billion into Brazil mature basin could boost oil output: report

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Investing $8 billion in Brazil’s waning offshore Campos Basin could boost its oil production by 230,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) by 2025, consultancy Wood Mackenzie said in a report on Tuesday.

Oil majors have already plowed billions into Brazil, now Latin America’s top producer, to lock in stakes in its pre-salt offshore oil play, where billions of barrels of oil are trapped beneath a thick layer of salt under the ocean floor.

Meanwhile, oil and gas production in the Campos Basin, where activity began about forty years ago, has fallen by a third over the last seven years to 1.3 million boepd, raising the specter of hefty outlays to close down operations.

“Campos Basin is still a cash cow for Petrobras,” said Luiz Hayum who authored the report.

Although output is declining, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro - the world’s most indebted oil company - invests very little there, which means the basin is a healthy source of free cash flow, he said.

“This is not sustainable for a long time. Without receiving this additional investment, 32 platforms would cease production by 2025.”

Some $8 billion are needed to decommission those platforms and related infrastructure in the basin from 2018 to 2025, Wood Mackenzie forecasts.

But redirecting that money to boosting output instead could add 230,000 boepd to production by 2025, postpone 60 percent of the decommissioning costs until after 2030 and add $3 billion in royalty payments to the government, the consultancy said.

Under a more optimistic scenario, where Brazil boosts its recovery factor in the basin to levels seen in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea, 5 billion barrels of additional oil could be recovered, it estimates.

Petrobras has been seeking outside investment to boost output from mature fields, as it focuses its own limited capital investment budget on its promising pre-salt holdings.

Last year, Norway’s Equinor, formerly Statoil, paid up to $2.9 billion for a 25 percent stake in Petrobras’ Roncador, part of a bid to boost oil recovery in one of Brazil’s largest fields in the Campos basin.

Reuters reported in July that Petrobras entered exclusive talks to sell two shallow water mature oil clusters in Campos to a group backed by EIG Global Energy Partners, in a deal said to be worth some $1 billion.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Marguerita Choy