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Brazil oil find may hit 8b barrels

EXXON Mobil Corp's oil discovery off the coast of Brazil may hold enough crude to rival the nearby Tupi prospect as the Western Hemisphere's largest find in three decades.

Exxon Mobil's Azulao-1 well tapped a reservoir that could contain 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil, said Luiz Lemos, a partner at TozziniFreire Advogados, a Brazilian law firm that represents foreign energy companies with projects in the South American nation.

The size of the discovery will intensify interest in Brazil's offshore region among United States, European and Chinese producers amid a dwindling supply of untapped oil basins outside the Persian Gulf and Russia, said Lemos, a former general counsel for a unit of Brazil's state oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

"This is very huge," Lemos said on Thursday in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News from Rio de Janeiro. His firm's clients include Texas-based Exxon Mobil, Norway's StatoilHydro ASA and Devon Energy Corp of Oklahoma City.

Exxon Mobil, which pumps more crude than every member of OPEC except Saudi Arabia and Iran, in January announced the discovery of petroleum in the Azulao-1 well in an offshore region designated BM-S-22. The company operates the project on behalf of partners Petroleo Brasileiro, known as Petrobras, and Hess Corp.

Petrobras triggered a flood of interest in Brazil's offshore crude deposits with the November 2007 announcement that Tupi may hold the equivalent of 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil. That would make it the largest find in the Americas since Mexico's Cantarell field was discovered in 1976.

The floating drilling rig began boring a second well, called Guarani, into the reservoir in BM-S-22 earlier this week, said Patrick McGinn, a Houston-based spokesman for Exxon Mobil.


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