Petrobras can finally be relieved of its obligations in the prized pre-salt offshore oilfields after Brazil’s Congress passed a vote that effectively allows other companies to operate there, according to Bloomberg.
Prior to the 292-to-101 vote state oil firm Petrobras had a legal obligation to assume at least 30% ownership of all pre-salt projects and to operate them. With huge debts – the oil industry’s biggest – and hampered by fallout from a huge bribery scandal, Petrobras was struggling to meet those obligations anyway.
As well as releasing Petrobras from an onerous burden the legislation should, the government hopes, lead to an influx of investment and improvements in production efficiency in offshore operations.
However, Petrobras will still have first pick of fields in the area.
The pre-salt region is a layer of salt formed at the end of the Mesozoic Era when dinosaurs lived. The salt layer traps crude oil beneath the Atlantic seabed. But it is very difficult to reach.
It stretches about 500 miles along the coast between the states of Santa Catarina and Espirito Santo, is about 125 miles wide. The hydrocarbons lie beneath 1.2 miles of salt which is beneath another 1.2 miles of rock which is under 1.8 miles of the Atlantic Ocean.