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The reserves were found at Tupi Sul – a field in the Santos basin located 302 km (185 miles) off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state – under 5,200 metres of rock and at a total depth below sea level of 2,188 metres (7,170 feet), the company said in a statement.
Drilling can continue to 5,600 metres, Petrobras said.
Exploration will continue until September 2014, at which time Petrobras could declare it to be commercially viable.
Ninety per cent of Brazil’s oil and gas output is credited to Petrobras.
Petrobras was granted the field by the Brazilian Government in 2010, and was then estimated to hold some five billion barrels of recoverable reserves.
The oil giant raised some $70 billion in the swap offer of oil for share, the largest in world history. A critical majority of the shares were acquired by the Brazilian government.
Petrobras said on Tuesday that preliminary studies indicate the Tupi Sul reserves are linked to those of the Lula field, the largest oil find in recent years in Brazil, part of an 8 billion barrel area owned by Petrobras, Britain’s BG Group Plc and Portugal’s Galp Energia SGPS.
The region is projected to hold tens of billions of barrels of light oil.
Both Tupi Sul and Lula are located in the so-called pre-salt region, a massive oil frontier so-named because the crude reservoirs it contains are located under an extensive layer of salt up to 2,000 metres (6,550 feet) thick.
The find is the second crude discovery announced so far this year by Petrobras, which in 2013 also has confirmed the existence of high-quality oil at a third prospect following the completion of drilling and declared yet another field to be commercially viable.
On Monday, Petrobras also announced the start of commercial production at the Sapinhoa field, in which it is a partner with Britain’s BG (30 per cent) and Spanish-Chinese consortium Repsol Sinopec (25 per cent).