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Brazil to get help with hard-to-reach black gold

Most of Brazil's offshore oil sits beneath a thick layer of salt, making access complex.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Brazil to get help with hard-to-reach black gold
French company Technip working on projects meant to help Brazil exploit hard-to-reach oil reserves off the nation's coast. Photo courtesy of Technip.

PARIS, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- French engineering company Technip said it started work on a contract that could help Brazilian oil company Petrobras tap hard-to-reach offshore reserves.

Technip said it was working with its counterparts at DOF Subsea on a support vessel that could help Petroleo Brasileiro, known also as Petrobras, with the installation of pipeline infrastructure in the ultra-deep waters off the Brazilian coast. It's the first of four covered under an eight-year charter contract with Petrobras.

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The two companies involved in the build said construction of the vessel and associated equipment was carried out for the most part in western European nations.

In October, the French engineering company servicing the energy sector secured a contract worth at least $110 million to provide some of the pipeline infrastructure for the giant Libra oil field in the Santos Basin off the coast of Brazil.

Most of Brazil's offshore oil is dubbed pre-salt, meaning the oil lies beneath a thick layer of salt on the ocean's floor.

Petrobras is striving to produce 4.2 million barrels of oil per day by 2020 from the Libra field alone. The company is recovering from a corruption scandal, chronically low crude oil prices and a recession in the Brazilian economy.

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Brazil ranks second behind Venezuela in terms of proven oil reserves in South America. An estimated 50 billion barrels of oil lies 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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