Petrobras signs 3.5-bln-dlr platforms deal to get at oil

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Brazil's state-run oil giant Petrobras said Thursday it has signed a 3.5-billion-dollar contract for the construction of eight drilling platforms to pump up crude from vast offshore fields from 2017.

Six of the platforms will be used in deepwater zones designated BM-S-11 in which Petrobras has Britain's BG Group and Portugal's Galp as junior partners.

The other two will be deployed in BM-S-9, areas in which Petrobras is partnered with BG Group and Spain's Repsol.

Brazilian firm Engevix Engenharia will build the platforms, each of which will be able to pump up to 150,000 barrels a day of oil and six million cubic meters of gas.

Petrobras said the platforms would be "of big strategic importance," as part of its plan to get at the huge, recently discovered reserves located off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

The fields potentially could triple Brazil's oil reserves from the current proven amount of 14 billion barrels, propelling the country into the top league of oil-exporting nations.

However the oil lies beneath a technically challenging layer of salt, pushing Petrobras to develop new technologies to get at it.

Brazil presently produces 2.6 million barrels of oil a day, enough to be self-sufficient.

© 2010 AFP

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