Brazil Leads the Way in New Sources of Oil

Brazil is once again taking the lead as a source for oil:

Brazil’s state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA in November said the offshore Tupi field may hold 8 billion barrels of recoverable crude. Among discoveries in the past 30 years, only the 15-billion-barrel Kashagan field in Kazakhstan is larger.

Haroldo Lima, director of the country’s oil agency, last week said another subsea field, Carioca, may have 33 billion barrels of oil. That would be the third biggest field in history, behind only the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia and Burgan in Kuwait.

Analysts Mark Flannery of Credit Suisse Group and Gustavo Gattass of UBS AG challenge the estimate for Carioca. Lima, the Brazilian oil agency director, later attributed the figure to a magazine.

Flannery told clients during an April 16 conference call that 600 million barrels is a “reasonable” estimate and suggested Lima may have been referring to the entire geologic formation to which Carioca belongs.

I say "once again" because Brazil has been a leader in offshore oil production for a long time, and not only in producing it, but in developing deep water technologies to actually develop the fields they have offshore.  This is crucial since their Continental Shelf falls off relatively quickly from their coastline.

Although it’s certainly a relief to reduce our dependence upon the Middle East, it still doesn’t solve the problem of having to export dollars to pay for the energy we burn.  The more dollar hegemony deteriorates, the more painful this becomes.

Sometimes offshore development in Brazil had its exciting moments, as I note on another website:

Below: a pile driving log from offshore, 1976. As the hammer lowers, blow by blow, the pile into the soil, the number of blows required to advance the pile one foot is counted and recorded for each foot of penetration. With a uniform soil, the resistance would increase uniformly as more pile-soil contact is made along the pile shaft and the toe resistance increases, but soils are anything but uniform, and the increase is best described as a general trend with interruptions.

Sometimes these interruptions could be dramatic. In 1980, during one platform installation in Brazil, as a Vulcan 560 hammer was driving pile for the Italian contractor Micoperi, the pile toe encountered an underground cavern. The pile ran, the shackle broke and the Vulcan hammer assembly fell and went to the sea floor. (Micoperi was, much to Vulcan’s dissappointment, able to salvage the hammer and bring it back into service.

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