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Brazil's Petrobras to step up search for onshore gas reserves

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Rio de Janeiro, May 3 (EFE).- Brazilian state-controlled energy giant Petrobras, whose production mostly comes from deep-water fields, will step up its search for onshore natural gas reserves in the coming years, CEO Maria das Graças Foster said Friday.

In remarks at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, she said one of the priorities of Petrobras' Strategic Plan 2030 is to develop reserves of natural gas and so-called non-conventional gas.

"One of the key activities of the Plan 2030 will be the search for onshore gas and we're going to import technologies and services to extract it. We're already working with other companies on that," Foster said.

She said the new strategic plan will bring about "a big shakeup in (the company's) research and development portfolio."

Shale gas is the most commonly known unconventional gas and is produced by using hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

Fracking is controversial and involves pumping a pressurized fluid - usually composed of water, sand and chemicals - into the shale formation to create a fracture in the rock layer and release trapped petroleum or natural gas.

Foster acknowledged that Petrobras will face significant challenges in developing non-conventional gas but said the company has already overcome bigger ones.

Among them, she cited methods developed to tap the pre-salt region, a recently discovered frontier so-named because its hydrocarbon reserves are located under water, rocks and a shifting layer of salt at depths of up to 7,000 meters (22,950 feet) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

In March, Petrobras produced an average of 63.6 million cubic meters (2.2 billion cubic feet) of natural gas per day at its fields in Brazil and an additional 15.6 million cubic meters abroad.

That volume is insufficient to meet domestic demand and the country must rely in part, though this dependence has steadily declined, on imported gas from Bolivia (30 million cubic meters per day).

The National Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels Agency, Brazil's oil and gas regulator, estimates the country has sufficient onshore natural gas reserves to boost supplies by 360 percent over the next decade.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130503/brazils-petrobras-step-search-onshore-gas-reserves