Learn some curiosities about the pre-salt layer

Called a “prize ticket” and “passport to the future”, the pre-salt layer is among the most important discoveries worldwide in the last decade and places Brazil in a strategic position in the face of the great demand for energy worldwide. Forming one of the several rock layers of the marine subsoil, it is an area of oil reserves that is under a deep layer of salt and is called pre-salt, due to the geological time scale, that is, the time of formation of the Petroleum.


However, its access is not that easy. There are several obstacles to reaching the reserve: The depth at which it is found (more than 7 thousand meters); salt, which at three or four thousand meters in depth behaves like a viscous and unstable material; demands a high cost for the development of technologies and complexity of access; oil boils inside the rocks and must be kept warm, as the drop in temperature induces the formation of clots that clog the ducts.


Despite this, the pre-salt is considered different from the others because it is light and of low density. Other than that, it manages to conserve the quality of the oil, which makes it much easier to be refined, in addition to producing more fine derivatives. Another important factor is that it has less sulfur, so it pollutes less and is more valued in world trade.

In economic terms, it is estimated that it has between 70 and 100 billion barrels of oil and natural gas equivalent, which can bring a great profit to the country, generating wealth, jobs and greater political power in Brazil.


Today, Petrobras is primarily responsible for exploring the pre-salt layer in Brazil. However, this does not mean that the company has ownership of the oil found. Under Brazilian law, the Union owns mineral reserves found in Brazilian soil or subsoil. In view of this, it is she who can grant companies the right to extract these mineral goods, in exchange for payments – the so-called transfer of rights contract.

The legal framework (law 12.351), which defined Petrobras as the sole operator in 2010, also defined the sharing regime as a way of exploiting the pre-salt reserves and created the Pre-salt Petroleum (PPSA) to manage the exploration contracts . 

Under the sharing regime, the pre-salt fields are auctioned and the contracted companies (the winners of the auction) must pay the Union the right to explore for oil (known as the signing bonus), in addition to transferring a portion future production.


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