Brazil mulls underwater base to guard oil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Brazil is considering plans to build a multibillion-dollar underwater base to guard its offshore hydrocarbon resources and to explore farther into the sea for minerals under the seabed.

A string of commercially viable finds of oil and gas deposits on the high seas have given impetus to government plans to exploit the sea within and beyond the country's territorial waters.


Various plans for making the most of offshore hydrocarbon resources are in place and most plans involve close collaboration between the government, the state-run hydrocarbons industry and the defense establishment.

Plans for an underwater "lab" or "platform" involve the government and the Brazilian navy, both of which are interested in setting up a marine outpost on the edge of Brazil's territorial waters, allowing deeper access to the sea.

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The idea is to place an oceanographic lab at Brazil´s most remote maritime frontier to have a continuous presence and dominate an area in which hidden natural riches go beyond the pre-salt layers, the Marine Technology Reporter said.

At the edge of the continental platform, around 350 nautical miles from the coast, the potential for mineral reserves under the seabed is considered to be very high, said the magazine.


This isn't only a government project but also a military matter that will involve government agencies, the Brazilian navy and business, it said.

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At least part of the Brazilian strategy is to develop a capability to deter any foreign powers that may have designs on the rich resources, MercoPress and other news media reported.

Recent hydrocarbon discoveries off the Brazilian coast have put estimates at tens of billions of barrels of oil equivalent.

In September government officials announced the offshore Libra oil prospect could contain about 8 billion barrels of oil -- higher than a previous estimate of 5.5 billion barrels -- and making it possibly the second-largest crude discovery in a decade after one reported in Kazakhstan.

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The vast deep-water area known as the subsalt region has raised prospects for new technologies, including deepest ever drilling being applied to extract the hydrocarbon resources from subsalt levels of the seabed.

The news made Libra the world's No. 2 crude oil discovery since a reported 17.2 billion barrel oil equivalent Kashagan find in Kazakhstan in 2000.

It rivaled another major offshore discovery in Brazil in 2006 -- the 5 billion-8 billion barrel find in the Santos Basin, about 160 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

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At the time of the discovery, Tupi was considered to be the Western Hemisphere's largest oil discovery of the last 30 years.

The government is expected to start inviting tenders for developing the fields this year.

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