Petrobras enters its fourth expansion cycle, credits pre-salt


RIO DE JANEIRO -- Petrobras is entering the fourth expansion cycle in its history as it ramps up its production in the pre-salt layer. This is a major milestone for the company, achieved by overcoming challenges, developing technologies and building up technical capacity.

This was explained on May 3, by Petrobras’ exploration and production director, Solange Guedes, during a panel discussion entitled “Oil and Gas in Brazil: Rules of the Game,” at a parallel event to the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) held by the Brazil-Texas Chamber of Commerce (BRATECC). She noted that Petrobras’ own output in the pre-salt reached 1 MMbpd, one year before expected. In December 2016, oil and gas production in pre-salt fields operated by the company amounted to 1.6 MMbpd, up 45% from December 2015.

Guedes emphasized that this frontier is highly profitable even at the current Brent crude oil price level of between $45 and $50/bbl. Petrobras is now able to install a well three times faster than when production began in the pre-salt. “Due to the area’s high productivity, fewer wells need to be drilled for our systems to produce at maximum capacity, leading to large savings in terms of investment,” she explained. “The company has also been able to bring lifting costs down to under $8 a barrel in this area,” she added, stressing that 10 new production systems will be starting up in the pre-salt in the next few years. “We will continue to focus on safety, training, open innovation, high-level standardization and acceleration of our learning curve to drive down costs and expand production.”

She also talked of the importance of partnerships with companies and universities in the technology area, concentrating on seeking to raise the oil recovery factor of fields and reduce costs. “Various service companies are working with us, developing solutions for offshore and onshore recovery operations. We have active partnerships with more than 100 universities and research centers across the world, expanding our technological frontiers,” she said, adding that since the Brazilian oil and gas sector was opened up in 1999, many companies have entered it, and Petrobras has emerged stronger.

Guedes also highlighted opportunities in the post-salt layer. According to her, Campos Basin has great potential for development through the application of lessons learned in recent years and intense use of technology. The idea is to work to increase the reservoir recovery factor. “We believe we can increase the recovery factor and in fact this is already happening. In Marlim field, it is above 50%,” she concluded.

Petrobras emphasized the benefits of cooperation between the Libra Consortium’s partners, including reductions in project’s breakeven price.

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