RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's state-owned energy giant Petrobras said Tuesday it will deploy the world's first floating oil terminal capable of refueling tankers on the high seas.
"The new technology will ensure lower costs, by reducing the distance covered by oil transport vessels," the company said in a statement.
Currently, crude oil must be ferried from offshore rigs to the coast where tankers come to fill up.
But the new "Transfer and Storage Offshore Unit will make it possible to store oil on the high seas and to transfer it to export vessels," the statement said, adding that the first terminal will be operational in June 2014, 90 kilometers (55 miles) off Rio de Janeiro.
The terminal will sit on a vessel stationed near the drilling rigs and be capable of storing two million barrels, equivalent to Brazil's daily production.
The unit, under construction in China, is expected to cost $318 million, plus the cost of chartering the vessel.
Brazilian press reports said the Petrobras project should secure speedy official approval as its socio-environmental impacts will not be assessed.
"The project was developed due to the need for new logistical solutions to export Brazilian oil," the statement said.
Brazil, the world's sixth largest economy, hopes to boost its oil production from around two million barrels a day currently to nearly five million by 2020, largely thanks to the huge offshore oil reserves it discovered in 2006.
The National Petroleum Agency estimates that the so-called "pre-salt" reserves could hold more than 100 billion barrels of high-quality recoverable crude and could turn Brazil into one of the world's top exporters.
Less than 10 percent of oil production currently originates in the pre-salt layer.