A CONSORTIUM comprising Petrobras and Total has started drilling on the Libra field off the coast of Brazil.

With a target depth of 5,850 metres, the first appraisal well was spudded on the Libra field in early August.

The field, located 200 kilometres offshore, has estimated resources of between 8 billion and 12 billion barrels in reservoirs that lie under a thick layer of salt. The well kicks off several years of work that will allow Total and its partners to improve their understanding of the gigantic field.

“It’s hard to grasp the sheer scale of Libra,” Total Americas exploration & production senior vice president Ladislas Paszkiewicz said.

“The field covers 155,000 square kilometres and we think it could require as many as twelve floating production storage and off loading vessel to develop.”

Once the first systems have been installed, production is scheduled to begin in 2017 and plateau at 1.3 million barrels per day in 2030.

In 2013, Total significantly increased its operations in Brazil, a country that accounts for 40 per cent of oil discoveries in the last five years, by acquiring interests in 10 exploration licenses and a 20% stake in the Libra discovery.

Petrobras is the operator of the field with a 40% stake, Total and Shell each have a 20% stake while CNOOC and CNPC hold the remaining 10% interests.