Nexi, the Japanese ECA, and Mizuho have signed an agreement with Petrobras to issue a US$500mn loan guarantee for the construction and conversion of 12 floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) platform hulls.

The agreement was signed at a meeting between Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in Brazil.

The platforms are being built to develop the pre-salt projects in the Santos Basin, off the coast of Brazil. Pre-salt represents around 20% of Petrobras’ oil production in the country. By 2020, the company anticipates that pre-salt will account for around 50% of total production, by which time it expects its output to be 4.2 million barrels of oil every day.

Pre-salt, a geological layer on continental shelves, often contains petroleum that hasn’t leaked upwards, making it more difficult to drill. There are reportedly large reserves of pre-salt petroleum off the costs of Africa as well as Brazil.