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The world’s top oil-producing countries: Brazil

According to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Brazil has the eighth-largest economy in terms of exchange rate value and the seventh largest in terms of purchasing power parity. It is the fifth-biggest country in the world, by both area and population, with a mixed economy and an abundance of natural resources, including oil. While Brazil does not have a long history of exporting oil, its more recent advances in offshore production have propelled it to become the world’s number-ten oil producer.

ExxonMobil, which makes premium-quality slideway oils like Mobil Vactra 2, has a long history of engagement in Brazil. In 1912, it was authorized as the Standard Oil Company of Brazil to set up operations for the distribution of oil products.

Following the discovery of oil in 1930, President Getúlio Vargas created the National Petroleum Council (NPC) in 1938 with the aim of exerting state control over this new industry. Further legislation in 1953 created the state-owned enterprise Petrobas, which was granted a monopoly for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons under the oversight of the NPC. Despite being accused of being overstaffed and inefficient, Petrobas managed to stay consistently profitable.

In 1961, Brazil was still a net importer of oil despite having sufficient refining capacity to meet domestic demand. In an effort to boost offshore exploration and production, Petrobas began to solicit assistance from foreign firms, leading to the first offshore field being discovered five years later.

Despite the find, Brazil was still a net importer when the 1973 and 1979 global oil crises hit. Efforts were made to launch projects in other countries, and foreign companies were even briefly allowed to explore within Brazil, yet nothing yielded results.

The turning point for Petrobas came in the 1980s when it invested heavily in research and development. Production soon rose, and by the 1990s, it became regarded as the world leader for deep and ultra-deep offshore exploration and production.

Since 2000, Brazil’s oil production has risen by an average of 5% a year. Petrobas also expects to produce 500,000 barrels per day from the Lula oil field by 2020, with production potentially reaching a million barrels a day, and other new discoveries are in development.

Despite recent corruption scandals regarding Petrobas, the country’s oil industry looks to have a promising future. In 2010–2014, almost two-thirds of the world’s deep water oil discoveries were made in Brazil.

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