QGEP Participacoes told the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels of the discovery in the Jequitinhonha Basin, about 12 miles offshore. The discovery was made in a pre-salt area, a reserve layer below a thick layer of submarine salt.
The company gave no indication of what it expected in terms of reserve potential from the initial discovery.
"The company expects to have the necessary data to determine the potential of this discovery," it said in a statement Wednesday. "Drilling activities are under way and are expected to be concluded by the end of this quarter when the final depth of the well will be reached."
There may be as much as 50 billion barrels of oil off Brazil, putting it just behind Venezuela in terms of proven oil reserves in South America. Though production is limited by a lack of transportation capacity, offshore Brazil holds the majority of its 14.7 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves.