Your account already exists. Please login first to continue managing your settings.
The happy dances are over. Now it’s time for the real work to begin.
At first glance Petrobras must be the envy of the E&P industry, managing some of the world’s largest reserves in its presalt finds.
But the company is not crowing about its success. Rather, it is taking a slow, steady, and studied approach to determine how best to produce these reserves in a sustainable manner.
Speaking to a sell-out crowd at Bratecc Offshore 2012, a breakfast hosted by the Brazil-Texas Chamber of Commerce, Solange Guedes, Petrobras presalt executive manager, discussed the challenges and opportunities surrounding presalt fields. “Petrobras has been shaped by these discoveries,” she said. “It’s changing the company.”
She added that the company’s work in deep and ultra-deep waters has ensured that the new finds aren’t considered stranded reserves. “With our portfolio, the presalt discoveries create a new exploration corridor close to our existing facilities,” she said.
Petrobras’ E&P strategy is to guarantee that its reserves are sustainable. To that end, the presalt reserves will ultimately involve more than 50 production systems and 1,000 offshore wells, she said.
Located 300 km (180 miles) offshore of Brazil’s southeast coast, the first discoveries were made in 2006. The discoveries indicated a massive oil accumulation in carbonate reservoirs 5,000 m to 7,000 m (16,400 ft to 23,000 ft) deep, including 2,000 m (6,500 ft) of salt. They are primarily located in the Santos and Campos basins. Some 30% of the acreage is under concession.
Petrobras is bringing a three-phase development strategy to the area. The first phase included three units installed to perform extensive well testing. The second phase includes the contracting of four additional units, which will be delivered in 2013 and 2014. Eight more units are under construction for later delivery, and four additional units are out for bid.
The final phase will start after 2017 and will focus on “a massive application of new technologies developed especially for the presalt,” she said.
Already the Lula field is producing 89,000 b/d from four wells, and a field in the Campos basin produces 45,000 b/d from three wells.
There’s much yet to be done. Guedes outlined Petrobras’ vision for the future development of its presalt reserves. Three factors come into play: the size of the reserves, the technical challenges involved in developing them, and the company’s requirement for local content.
“This creates an interesting opportunity and provides hope for people wanting to be front-runners,” she said.
The challenges are considerable. Presalt constitutes a new frontier with complex reservoirs that will need enhanced oil recovery methods relatively early on. Improvements are needed in subsea production systems, and production optimization will be a key factor.
To address these challenges, Petrobras has an R&D roadmap that includes maximizing local content by providing engineering development, focusing on subsea technology, and designing new technologies that are specific to presalt development. Some of these might include laser drilling and nanotechnology as well as new subsea production, boosting, and power technologies. The company will also work to develop topside processing systems with a reduced footprint.
Additionally, Guedes said, R&D will examine new concepts in automation and robotics.
“It’s part of the new Petrobras deepwater technology program,” she said.
Petrobras is working with universities and R&D labs around the world to bring these new technologies forward. She said that for every researcher within Petrobras working on the problem, there are 15 researchers at partner facilities.
With global oil consumption expected to double over the next 17 years, reserves like the presalt will be necessary to fuel that growth, she concluded.