Petrobras announces next development phases for Cascade and Chinook fields
HOUSTON – While the ultra-deepwater Cascade and Chinook fields in the Gulf of Mexico have reached a number of milestones, it will be several more years until Petrobras’ goal of having 13 operating wells on line becomes a reality, according to Petrobras America Walker Ridge Asset Manager Cesar Palagi.
Petrobras became operator of the fields in 2006, and in a presentation sponsored by the Texas-Brazil Chamber of Commerce, Palagi explained the challenges and successes of the first phase of development, as well as Petrobras’ plans for the second and third stages of development.
Currently, Petrobras is the third largest player in the Lower Tertiary region of the Gulf, where the Cascade and Chinook fields lie. While the fields were scheduled to come online in 2010, the project was put on hold due to the drilling moratorium following the Macondo blowout. The project has, however since reached a number of milestones, including bringing the first FPSO, BW Pioneer, to operate in the Gulf of Mexico. Cascade and Chinook also hold the world record for the deepest free-standing hybrid riser system (8,200 ft), the deepest pipe-in-pipe design (8,895 ft), deepest export pipeline (8,200 ft) and the deepest mooring of a Floating Production Facility (FPS) at 8,200 ft. The development also includes Petrobras’ deepest well drilled in the Gulf of Mexico, at 27,500 ft.
The Cascade well is currently online and the Chinook well should be online in a few months, Palagi explained. For the project’s second and third development phases, the company is looking to have a total of 13 wells on line (6 in Cascade, 7 in Chinook) and is also looking at replacing the BW Pioneer with a platform, which the company is in the process of designing. The company is also exploring new options for delivering oil to shore. Currently, the project employs two shuttle tankers; however, Petrobras is looking at the possibility of developing a system of pipelines connecting the fields to other developments in the Gulf.
There are also several challenges that Petrobras will face in order to solidify its next development steps. “These are very complex reservoirs,” Palagi said. “It will be several years before we understand them.” The company is planning on doing additional seismic work in the near future in order to better understand the fields. The original seismic work was done at the same time the company was developing the fields. “As more and more production data and well data comes available, of course we can re-design all of these phases,” Palagi said. The company is also looking at better ways to understand metocean conditions in the area, such as ocean currents and wave movement.
Palagi commended Petrobras and its partners for investments in the field since 1996, before ultra-deepwater technology was available. “It is about always looking 5, 10, 15 years ahead,” Palagi said.