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West Africa no Brazil in terms of oil

Aug. 20, 2013 at 8:07 AM   |   Comments

HOUSTON, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- West African offshore oil drilling might not duplicate the success producers have experienced off South America's coast despite geological similarities, an analyst said.

U.S. oil company Marathon Oil announced Monday it encountered a natural gas layer measuring more than 150 feet thick while drilling off the coast of Gabon. French energy company Total, the operator of the site, said it spent $922 million on developments in Gabon, a 20 percent increase from 2012.

The discovery in Gabon was located in a pre-salt basin, a sub-sea deposit located under a thick layer of salt. Investors said they expected West African deposits to mirror oil development from off Brazil.

"Instead, they got gas, and not so much of it either," Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Fadel Gheit was quoted as saying by the Houston Chronicle's energy blog Fuel Fix.

Petroleo Brasileiro, known also as Petrobras, said at a Houston energy conference in May it expected to produce more than 2 million barrels of oil per day by 2020 from pre-salt basins offshore, Fuel Fix said.

An estimated 50 billion barrels of oil lie off Brazil's coast, a volume that's expected to put the Latin American country on par with some of the world's top oil producers.

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