Petrobras is expanding exploration and production efforts in the Gulf of Mexico with the addition of interest in shallow-water exploration blocks that formerly belonged to US-based Newfield Exploration Corp. The blocks represent a 30% stake in a project Newfield has been working on in the region, and Petrobras hopes to start drilling test wells next year.
"The market in the U.S. for natural gas is really heating up, and we are very interested in helping supply that growing demand," said Joao Carlos Araujo Figueira, Petrobras' executive manager for international operations.
Figueira did not disclose how much Petrobras plans to invest in the new project, called Treasure Bay.
Under the letter of intent, Petrobras will drill one exploration well and has the option to drill a second well to earn an interest in all of Newfield's Treasure Bay licenses.
BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) is the project's operator with a 44% stake, while Newfield holds a 26% share.
The federally owned oil group has made four natural gas finds in the region over the past couple of years.
In mid-April, Petobras and Royal Dutch/Shell Group found natural gas in a deepwater exploration area in the Gulf of Mexico. Petrobras has a 33.3% stake in the project, while Shell is the operator of the deepwater block.
At the time, Petrobras said "the result confirmed the potential for significant gas reserves in that portion of the Gulf of Mexico, where Petrobras holds 100% participation on three more prospects of similar characteristics, the first of which the company intends to drill early next year."
Meanwhile, Petrobras recently signed a deal to explore oil offshore Tanzania. Figueira said Petrobras is looking to invest $7 million in initial exploration work, and that the area has good potential for oil production in deepwater areas.
Petrobras won the license three years ago, but the signing of the contract was delayed owing to regulatory problems in Tanzania's energy market.
The Brazilian oil giant is also expected to sign an E&P contract with Iran, where it recently won a license to explore oil in one of eight giant offshore blocks offered by the Middle Eastern nation last year in its first offshore licensing round. The block, known as Tusan, covers an area of about 8,000 sq km in the Persian Gulf.