Nov. 27 (UPI) -- French supermajor Total said production started at a field off the coast of Brazil using infrastructure that could produce 150,000 barrels of oil per day.
From the pre-salt Santos basin off the coast of Brazil, a reservoir located beneath a thick layer of submarine salt, the company said Monday the first barrels of oil were coming out of the Libra field.
"Libra is a major asset in Total's portfolio and fits into our strategy of investing in highly competitive projects with low break-even points," Arnaud Breuillac, the company's president of exploration and production, said in a statement. "The start-up is a major step in the development of this field, and Total is bringing its deep offshore expertise to the project."
An estimated 50 billion barrels of oil lies off Brazil's coast, a volume that's expected to put the South American country on par with some of the world's top oil producers. Brazil ranks second behind Venezuela in terms of proven oil reserves in South America.
Using a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, Total said early capacity from Libra is around 50,000 barrels of oil per day.
"Beyond this early production phase, the Libra development will further continue with the next investment decision for the Libra 1 FPSO with a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day," the company stated.
In December, the company moved deeper into Brazilian waters in a $2.2 billion deal with state-supported Petroleo Brasileiro, known more commonly as Petrobras. Both sides already work together on assets in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico and in the giant Libra oil field.
In coordination with that deal, a report from consultant group Wood Mackenzie found the oil reserves off the coast of Brazil are among the "hot oil plays."
French energy company TechnipFMC has a $110 million contract from 2015 to provide some of the pipeline infrastructure for the Libra field.
Economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Brazil is expected to contribute to non-member state production growth this year with a gain of around 18,000 barrels per day, a forecast announced before first oil from Libra.