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BP plans Campos wildcat off Brazil

UK supermajor looking to resume exploration drilling early next decade in the pre-salt province

UK supermajor BP is looking to resume exploration drilling early next decade in the pre-salt province in the Campos basin off Brazil, targeting hydrocarbons at deeper horizons in an area that hosts the Basilisco heavy oil discovery, writes Fabio Palmigiani.

More than two and a half years after taking over operatorship of Block BM-C-35 in the southern portion of the Campos basin from state-controlled Petrobras, BP has finally come up with an exploration campaign for the asset.

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It is understood that BP intends first to process new seismic data acquired on the block and then spud one well targeting Aptian-age Carbonate reservoirs in the pre-salt fairway.

The company has until March 2022 to proceed with such activities.

Depending on the results of the well, a drillstem test could also be on the cards.

However, it is unclear at this point whether the company will drill the wildcat on BM-C-35 in a potential joint programme with the Pau Brasil pre-salt well.

BP is eyeing drilling of the Pau Brasil wildcat on the production sharing contract of the same name in the second half of 2020, and sources suggested the company will soon approach the market with an invitation to tender for a rig.

Industry sources expect the operator to issue the tender to charter a rig — possibly a drillship — for at least a one-well campaign at Pau Brasil in the Santos basin.

However, the contract could offer a few options and a potential probe on BM-C-35 has been tipped as a likely candidate.

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Then-operator Petrobras in February 2015 made the Basilisco discovery on BM-C-35 in a water depth of 2214 metres, hitting two accumulations of heavy oil in the post-salt at depths of 3190 metres and 3521 metres.

Despite the prospectivity of Basilisco, Petrobras two years ago exited the block by transferring free of charge its 65% stake to BP, giving the UK player a full 100% share in the promising asset.

The permit lies north of the Total-operated Xerelete heavy oil field, where BP holds a 30% working interest.

The Xerelete development has been on hold for years but a new discovery on BM-C-35 could offer synergies and even a potential joint development, said one source.

Drilling on BM-C-35 would mark the return of BP to the prolific Campos basin after a long hiatus.

The last time BP carried out a programme in the region was in November 2013, with the Anu-2 pre-salt well on Block BM-C-34, which was later relinquished following a string of failed attempts to make a commercial discovery.

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