The Libra oil field off of the coast of Brazil might well be the biggest new discovery of crude reserves in the Western Hemisphere in over three decades. The Brazilian government said today that the field, which lies in the Santos Basin off the southeastern coast of Brazil, could hold anywhere between 7.9 billion and 16 billion barrels of oil.
Like the neighboring Tupi field, which is held by partially state-owned oil major Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Libra is in the ultra-deepwater "pre-salt area." The reserves are lucrative, but potentially expensive to develop.
The news boosted Brazilian stock index futures on expectations that Petrobras will be able to exploit them for massive revenues. Bovespa index futures were down 178 points to 71,276 on Thursday evening, but reversed course and were up 389 points to 71,665 at 9:01 a.m. EST.
The largest-ever discovery in the Americas was Cantarell, discovered off of the Mexican coast in 1976; the total size of that field is estimated at 35 billion barrels, with total recoverable reserves at 18 billion barrels.
The discovery probably won't significantly impact crude oil futures, which are poised for U.S. gross domestic product figures on Friday and the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing announcement next week.
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