Petrobras applies pre-salt pressure

June 8, 2011

Planning and information are key to the successful realization of Petrobras’ ambitious plans to hoist pre-salt production levels from the current 100,000b/d to 1.08 million b/d inside ten years. Jennifer Pallanich listened in as José Formigli, the Brazilian operator’s executive manager for the pre-salt, told OTC attendees how the feat would be accomplished.

Reaching those production goals will require immense resources, planning, and information. ‘To manage something you have to plan,’ Formigli said.

Petrobras is now in what it considers Phase 0, or information gathering, for the pre-salt development program. Phase 0, from 2008-18, calls for appraisal wells and production from extended well tests (EWTs) and the Lula Pilot. Phase 1a, slated for 2013-2016, will see operated production from the Guará pilot, the Lula (formerly Tupi) Northeast Pilot, Guará North, Cernambi (ex-Iracema), eight definitive production systems and four transfer of rights production units. In other words, Formigli said, Phase 1a is ‘where we add a tremendous number of new units.’

During Phases 0 and 1a, Petrobras intends to install 16 units by 2017. ‘That’s a lot of work to be happening,’ he said. All of those units are under execution or under bid, he added.

Phase 1b, to run from 2017, will see significant production increase. The cornerstones of this phase include acceleration of ‘blue sky’ technologies and the ‘massive’ use of new technologies specially tailored for pre-salt conditions. In the R&D phase are subsea processing, laser drilling, nanomaterials, nanoparticals and plug and play FPSOs. ‘Some of them are more blue than others,’ Formigli acknowledged. But ‘what a big impact that could bring to our industry.’

In R&D, Petrobras has teamed up with a number of its suppliers. ‘$73 billion is what we expect to invest together with our partners through 2015 . . . that means $40 million per day,’ Formigli said. Of that, 32% is earmarked for drilling technologies, 27% for FPSOs, 21% for completions and 20% for subsea technologies. Petrobras is expected to fund 74% of the forecast $73 billion investment. During a press briefing at the conference, Formigli said the break-even point for producing the presalt reserves is between $35/ bbl and $40/bbl, down from the previous range of $40/bbl to $45/bbl.

So far in Phase 0, Formigli said, the company has already seen ‘excellent results’ from the Lula deepwater EWT. The FPSO BW Cidade de Sao Vicente moved earlier this year from the Lula EWT to carry out the Lula Northeast EWT. That test began in late April, and the FPSO is expected to remain on site about six months. The EWT started at Guará in March to the FPWSO (floating production, workover, storage & offloading) Dynamic Producer. A drillpipe riser connection cracked in early March. The incident stemmed from the installation, during which there was no effective torque applied to that connection, Formigli said.

During a press briefing at OTC, Formigli noted all production had already stopped because of a problem with the instability on the power generation of the vessel. ‘There was no spew when we had this break,’ he said.

Petrobras has since carried out re-inspection and ‘we are just about to reconnect the system.’

While the EWT was producing, Formigli said, Guará had produced at a steady flow rate with good reservoir behavior. The EWT has also shown good lateral communication in the area and there have been no flow assurance problems, he said.

The results of the EWTs and pilots will help the operator fine-tune the development plan for the pre-salt reserves, which lie in waters deeper than 2000m off the coast of Brazil.

Petrobras’s first pre-salt wildcat, Parati, cost more than $200 million to drill. But it also backed up what the geologists thought might lie below the salt layer.

Since the company started its pre-salt focus, one of the most monumental strides in technology has been downhole, resulting in the reduction of drill time. Formigli told OE improvements to bits and BHAs have dropped pre-salt drilling times by increasing the ROP in salt and the reservoir. There is still, he said, room to improve.

Formigli also said he views the reinjection of naturally occurring CO2 as another major step. The operational feedback that has come with running the CO2 reinjection during the Lula pilot has given Petrobras confidence in the design of the system, he added.

Since the initial Parati well, Petrobras and its partners in the various pre-salt blocks have drilled a number of hits, including the Lula field, which holds an estimated 6.5 billion boe of recoverables, and the Cernambi field with its 1.8 billion boe of recoverables. Other large finds include Carioca, Bem-te-vi, Caramba, Guará, Jupiter and Iara.

‘We have our reasons to believe . . . we might have a bright future,’ Formigli said. OE

Bigging up Brazil
Brazil is a real land of opportunity, Paulo Mendonça, general executive officer and exploration officer for the hugely successful Brazilian independent explorer OGX, told OTC delegates in Houston last month. ‘We still have in Brazil a lot of opportunities . . . entire basins completely unexplored,’ he enthused.
Only 4.5% of Brazil’s 7.5 million km2 of basins is under concession. OGX, founded in 2007, holds 29 blocks in Brazil. Of those, seven are onshore. The company has drilled 38 wells with a 90% success rate, he said.
OGX – for Oil & Gas and the mathematical multiplier X – has certainly seen growth in its short history. It was created in June 2007 and had an IPO in March 2008, when it had a portfolio of 4.8 billion boe and a market capitalization of $23.7 billion. By September 2009, it had acquired seismic – OGX now has 15,070km2 of 3D seismic and 4530km of 2D seismic – and held a portfolio with 6.8 billion boe. In December 2010, it upgraded its holdings to 10.8 billion boe and by then held a market capitalization of $40 billion.
The company has mostly explored Brazil’s shallow waters in the Campos and Santos basins, but it also holds interest in several other basins along the country’s coastline as well as onshore blocks in Brazil and Colombia (OE April 2010). OGX has plans to drill 18 wells each this year and next year. OGX expects to spend 2011 appraising discoveries in the Campos, Santos, and Parnaiba basins as well as beginning exploration in other Brazilian basins and Colombia.
OGX’s first field off Brazil is expected to go onstream in 2H 2011, producing to the OSX-1 FPSO.
‘We are almost ready, waiting for the FPSO to start production,’ Mendonça said. The well – OGX 26 – is drilled, tested and completed. The subsea tree has been installed, and the ANP has approved the extended well test. The FPSO is due to arrive later this year from Singapore.
First production will be from the Waimea accumulation in block BM-C-41 through an extended well test. Production is anticipated at 40,000b/d of 20°API oil.
GE is supplying the subsea trees, Wellstream the flexible lines, Oceaneering the control umbilical, and Baker Hughes the electric submersible pump. The Aker Wayfarer, under contract to Wellstream, has the contract to connect the producing well to the OSX-1 FPSO and install the mooring system.
The company aims to reach production of 730,000boe/d by 2015 and 1.38 million boe/d by 2019. To do so, Mendonça said, OGX will need 19 FPSOs, five TLPs and 24 WHPs, as well as the associated personnel. Hiring skilled people is, he said, the biggest issue in Brazil. ‘It’s not lack of cash. It’s not lack of equipment.’ JP


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