San Francisco: Petrobras denied on Thursday newspaper reports in Brazil that it is planning to sell stakes in its valuable pre-salt assets, which are rich in offshore oil reserves.
The previous day’s edition of Valor Economico had published that some pre-salt assets would be included in a $13.7bn divestment plan aimed at reducing capital spending.
The pre-salt layer – usually found offshore Africa and Brazil – is a geological formation on the continental shelves, laid down before a salt layer accumulated above them.
Some of the petroleum that was formed in the pre-salt layer has not leaked upward to the post-salt layers above. The quantity of oil is not known but is thought to be a significant fraction of world reserves.
According to Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run energy giant, the oil (and natural gas) lie below an approximately 2,000m deep layer of salt, itself below an approximately 2,000m deep layer of rock under 2,000-3,000m of the Atlantic. Drilling through the rock and salt to extract the pre-salt oil and gas is very expensive.
Since discovering the pre-salt layer in 2006, Petrobras has sunk 11 oil wells in the Santos Basin and all have been successful. Petrobras estimates there are 8 to 12 billion barrels of recoverable oil, which would double the country’s current reserves.
The newspaper said that Petrobras could sell some exploration licences that are not part of the production sharing agreements and stake in the Libra field
In rejecting the newspaper claim, the company said in a statement: “Petrobras has a divestment plan of US$ 13.7 billion for 2015 and 2016, which is the Company’s financial plan to reduce leverage, to preserve cash and to concentrate in priority investments. This divestment plan, as approved, does not include pre-salt assets.”
For months Petrobras has been entangled in a huge graft and corruption scandal involving kickbacks for over-inflated contracts.