Royal Dutch Shell Brazil discovered oil in the Campos Basin's pre-salt region, the company said Tuesday. In a statement, Shell Brazil said it had discovered oil in the 3-SHEL-22-ESS well at the Nautilus field, part of the Parque das Conchas development that went on-stream in July 2009.
Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, or ANP, was notified of the discovery over the weekend. The well also tested positive for oil earlier this year, but that discovery was made above the pre-salt layer.
Shell has embarked on a drilling campaign that has targeted pre-salt prospects. Shell officials said earlier this year that the company planned 10 offshore wells over the next 18 months, including pre-salt targets.
The pre-salt region in the Campos Basin is more attractive to oil companies because the salt layer is not as thick as in the Santos Basin, where the salt layer can reach thicknesses of more than 2,000 meters. The Campos Basin, which produces more than 85% of Brazil's crude oil, also has a well established oil infrastructure.
The Santos Basin pre-salt finds were made under a thick layer of salt off the coast of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states. The oil lies under more than 2,000 meters of water and a further 5,000 meters under sand, rock and a shifting layer of salt.
But the Campos Basin holds Brazil's first producing pre-salt oil well at the Jubarte field. Jubarte and Wahoo, a pre-salt discovery made last year by Anadarko Petroleum and Devon Energy, are located in close proximity to the Nautilus discovery. Devon has since sold its stake in the block to troubled major BP PLC.
Shell is the operator of the BC-10 block that contains Nautilus with a 50% stake. Brazilian government managed oil and gas corporation Petrobras holds a 35% share of the block, while India's Oil & Natural Gas Corp. has a 15% stake.
Shell is one of the few foreign oil majors producing crude offshore Brazil, pumping about 90,000 barrels a day from Parque das Conchas in the Campos Basin. Parque das Conchas includes four separate fields: Abalone, Argonauta, Nautilus and Ostra, currently in production.
Shell estimates that the block holds 400 million barrels of recoverable oil, but that's from reservoirs above the so-called pre-salt layer.