India's OVL may block Chinese bid to buy into Brazil oilfield

Aug. 20, 2013 at 2:03 PM
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NEW DELHI, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Both China and India have been scouring the globe for reliable energy resources.

One of the latest battlegrounds between the two competing Asian energy giants is Latin America.

Competing interests have collided in Brazil, Latin America's biggest nation. India's state company Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd. subsidiary, Videsh Ltd., is considering exercising its pre-emption rights to block China's Sinochem Group from buying a 35 percent interest in Brazilian oilfields for $1.54 billion.

OVL currently retains a 15 percent share in Brazil's ultra-deepwater offshore Parque das Conchas BC-10 bloc. Complicating the picture, Brazilian state-controlled oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA is considering selling its 35 percent stake to Sinopec, the Press Trust of India reported Monday, pushing OVL to consider buying out the Petrobras share to block the Sinochem bid.

The Parque das Conchas BC-10 bloc is located 74 miles off the coast of Brazil with a water depth of nearly 1.2 miles. The scattered nature of the reservoirs pose substantial technical challenges, along with the low reservoir pressure, which inhibits the free flow of oil, because of the near-freezing temperatures on the seabed. Compounding the technical issues are shifting seabed sands and the Atlantic Ocean currents. To develop the fields economically, three reservoirs of Parque das Conchas were connected through a single production process centered on a specially-converted floating, production, storage and offloading vessel.

Parque das Conchas (BC-10), is in the north of the Campos Basin, offshore Espirito Santo state, Brazil. BC-10 contains the fields Ostra, Argonauta B-West, Abalone, Argonauta O-North and Nautilus. Phase one of the BC-10 project involved the development of Abalone, Ostra and Argonauta B-West, which began in July 2009. The first BC-10 discovery well was drilled in 2000 and the final discovery well in 2003. The BC-10 fields were subsequently declared commercially viable two years later after the exploration and drilling of 13 wells involving technological and engineering studies. The decision to invest in the fields was made in October 2006.

The BC-10 offshore fields have estimated reserves of 400 million barrels of heavy crude oil. Currently, Shell Brasil is the operator and has a 50 percent interest in the Parque das Conchas project. The other stakeholders are Brazilian state firm Petrobras, which holds 35 percent, and India's subsidiary ONGC Campos, which holds 15 percent.

Production from the Parque das Conchas project's third phase is expected to peak at 28,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, which has produced more than 70 million barrels of oil equivalent since production began in 2009.

Royal Dutch Shell holds a 50 percent interest in Parque das Conchas, Petrobras and ONGC hold 35 percent and 15 percent interest in the field.

"Offshore Brazil is a key part of our plans to grow our deep-water portfolio -- a key component of our global strategy," said John Hollowell, executive vice president for deep water developments at Parque das Conchas partner Royal Dutch Shell, adding 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.

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