Petrobras reports pre-salt production exceeds 1 million barrels per day

Jun 06, 2016 12:00 AM

Pre-salt now accounts for 40% of oil production from facilities operated by Petrobras in Brazil

On May 8, oil production from facilities operated by Petrobras in the Brazilian pre-salt layer broke a new record, surpassing 1 million barrels per day (bpd). Of this total, more than 70% of the volume produced corresponded to Petrobras’ share. As a result, the pre-salt fields located in the Santos and Campos basins now account for around 40% of oil production operated by Petrobras in Brazil.

This result was achieved less than 10 years after the discovery of these deposits, in 2006, and less than 2 years after output of 500,000 bpd was reached, in July 2014. This shows not just the technical and financial viability of pre-salt, but also its high productivity. By way of comparison, Petrobras only reached output of 1 million bpd in 1998, 45 years after it was established.

The new record was obtained using just 52 production wells, demonstrating the excellent returns of pre-salt investment. Petrobras’ first 1 million bpd, achieved in 1998, involved contributions from more than 8,000 production wells.

'Pre-salt production projects are now Petrobras’ main focus of investment, due to their strategic importance and high profitability. Together with other projects in our portfolio, they guarantee greater predictability for our production targets and curve,' says the company’s exploration and production director, Solange Guedes.

Installed capacity
There are now seven large production systems operating in the Santos Basin pre-salt, interconnected with Floating Production, Storage and Offloading platforms (FPSOs). They are as follows: Cidade de Angra dos Reis (operating since 2010 in Lula field); Cidade de São Paulo (2013, Sapinhoá field); Cidade de Paraty (2013, Lula field); Cidade de Mangaratiba (2014, Lula field, Iracema South area); Cidade de Ilhabela (2014, Sapinhoá field, North area); Cidade de Itaguaí (2015, Lula field, Iracema North area); and Cidade de Maricá (2016, Lula field, Lula Alto area).

Another eight production systems are operating in both the pre-salt and post-salt layers in Campos Basin. Six of these units were already producing in the post-salt, but as they had spare processing capacity, they have been used to quickly interconnect new wells drilled in the deepest parts of the pre-salt. They are interconnected to platform P-48, operating in Barracuda-Caratinga field; P-53 and P-20, both in Marlim Leste field; FPSO Capixaba, in Baleia Franca field; P-43, operating in Barracuda field; and FPSO Cidade de Niterói, in Marlim Leste field.

Two other units have been deployed to operate mainly in the pre-salt, in the Jubarte, Baleia Azul and Baleia Franca fields: FPSO Cidade de Anchieta (2012); and platform P-58 (2014).

High productivity
The significant volume produced per well in the pre-salt layer of Santos Basin, around 25,000 bpd, is well above the industry average. Of the 10 most productive wells in Brazil, 9 are in this area. The most productive one is located in Lula field, and it produces 36,000 bpd on average.

These results are owed to enhanced knowledge of geology and the dynamic behavior of accumulations, progressive improvements in the efficiency of projects, and the introduction of state-of-the-art technologies. In recognition of the technological solutions that have been decisive for the successful implementation of projects in the pre-salt, in May 2015 Petrobras received its third OTC Distinguished Achievement Award for Companies, Organizations and Institutions, the highest award bestowed in the global offshore industry.

Competitive costs
The combination of new technologies and acceleration of the technical learning curve, focused on costs and productivity, makes pre-salt projects highly profitable for the company. Out of the new sources of oil currently being developed across the world, Brazilian pre-salt is recognized as one of the most competitive, due to high well productivity, low lifting costs, and the application of innovative production technologies developed by Petrobras and its partners.

Because of these factors, average lifting costs have declined steadily in recent years, from US$9.1 per barrel of oil equivalent (oil and gas) in 2014 to US$8.3 in 2015 and under US$8 in the first quarter of this year. This is a striking result when compared with the average figure for the industry, of around US$15.
The costs of investing in this frontier are also falling because of the high productivity of reservoirs, requiring fewer wells per production system. Furthermore, improvements in well construction efficiency have permitted a significant reduction in drilling and completion time. Added together, these factors have led to a major decrease in investment in implementation projects and an increase in profitability. For example, the average time taken to construct an offshore well in the Santos Basin pre-salt was approximately 310 days up to 2010. By 2015, this period had fallen to 128 days, and in the first five months of this year it was around 89 days. There has been a 71% decline in overall well construction time between 2010 and 2016.

Next steps
Elsewhere in Santos Basin, a new production system will start up at the beginning of the third quarter of this year. It will be deployed in the Lula Central area of Lula field, and interconnected to FPSO Cidade de Saquarema. This platform will be capable of processing up to 150,000 bpd of oil and compressing 6 million cubic meters of gas.

Another large system, connected to FPSO Cidade de Caraguatatuba, will be deployed in Lapa field in the third quarter of this year, with the capacity to produce up to 100,000 bpd of oil and to compress up to 5 million cubic meters of gas per day. By 2020, the company plans to have 12 new production systems in the Santos Basin pre-salt.

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