GE opened its US$500 million Brazil Technology Center in Rio de Janeiro.
The research hub will focus on developing advanced technologies for offshore oil and gas exploration and production.
The center, GE’s first in Latin America, will employ 400 researchers by the end of the decade. They will work with Petrobras, Statoil, BG Group and other GE customers in the region on solving engineering challenges such as drilling 40,000-foot deep wells 100 mi. offshore, and processing oil and gas 10,000ft below the sea level, in an alien world dominated by darkness and crushing pressures.
“Our new research center in Brazil will allow GE to innovate locally for our customers in Latin America and then export those innovations to the world, “ said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. “Over the past decade, we have doubled down on our R&D investment and expanded our global network of research centers to address customers’ growing needs for breakthrough technology that we develop with them. We see significant growth opportunities in Latin America and having the best technology and solutions will ensure we maintain GE’s competitive edge.”
One company developing new technologies to unlock deepwater oil and gas resources is Norway’s Statoil. The energy giant was recently awarded new exploration licenses in the Espírito Santo basin located almost 100 mi. off the coast of Brazil.
“The licenses are located in the deep water sector of the Espírito Santos basin, in 2000-3000m water depth, and, assuming we are successful finding hydrocarbons, it will be a challenge to develop cost-effectively,” says Statoil’s Magnus Bernt, who is in charge of the company’s subsea research in Brazil. “At these water depths we have to think differently about field development, and Statoil believes subsea factory concepts, applying processing and boosting technologies at the sea bottom, can increase oil recovery and reduce capital expenditures.”
In 2008 GE and Statoil established a formal technology cooperation agreement on subsea technology development. In 2009, Statoil decided to start R&D in Brazil, focusing on research in improved oil recovery, CO2, carbonate reservoirs, and subsea technologies.
GE is already working with Petrobras and BG Group on research projects to develop the technologies and equipment that will be required to move production from floating platforms to the seabed.