Brazil readies two new FPSOs for subsalt oil and natural gas output: Petrobras

Rio de Janeiro (Platts)--30 Mar 2017 623 pm EDT/2223 GMT

Brazil is in the process of preparing two new floating production, storage and offloading vessels, or FPSOs, to start oil and natural gas production in the country's record-setting subsalt frontier, state-led producer and refiner Petrobras said Thursday.

The FPSO P-69 arrived at the Brasfels shipyard in Angra dos Reis, south of Rio de Janeiro, on Tuesday, Petrobras said. The vessel will have 18 processing modules installed onboard before heading out to start production at the Lula Extremo Sul area of the massive Lula Field in 2018, the company said.

The new floating production units are part of eight that will be installed offshore Brazil over the next two years, according to Petrobras' investment plan for 2017-2021. The ultra-deepwater region accounted for nearly 50% of Brazil's total crude output in January, including a record 1.276 million b/d of oil and 49.53 million cu m/d of natural gas from 73 wells.

The FPSO P-69 is part of five new production units expected to come onstream in 2018, with all of the new FPSOs installed at subsalt fields. In addition to Lula Extremo Sul, FPSOs are also expected to pump first oil from the Berbigao area in the transfer-of-rights area and the Buzios 1, Buzios 2 and Buzios 3 modules of the Buzios Field.

Petrobras owns a 65% operating stake in the Lula Field, which is Brazil's largest oil and gas producer. Shell retains a 25% minority stake, while Portugal's Galp Energia holds the remaining 10%. The P-69 will be capable of producing up to 150,000 b/d of oil and processing up to 6 million cu m/d of gas, according to Petrobras.

Fresh production records are also expected in 2017, when Petrobras and its partners developing the subsalt region are scheduled to install three new FPSOs. Petrobras expects to install new FPSOs at the Lula Norte and Lula Sul areas of the Lula Field in 2017, as well as a single floating production unit that will produce from the sister Tartaruga Mestica and Tartaruga Verde fields.

The FPSO P-66, which will be installed at the Lula Sul area, left the Brasfels shipyard in early February and has already arrived on site, where work to anchor the vessel and connect the first production well is currently underway.

Petrobras also expects to connect 57 new production and injection wells in 2017 to FPSOs installed over the past 18 months, which are now undergoing the ramp-up phase of output development, according to the company. Petrobras connected 56 wells in 2016, down from a recent high of 73 wells in 2015.

Brazil will also see an additional boost to output in the fourth quarter of 2017, when a long-term well test is conducted at the subsalt Libra Field and independent producer QGEP Participacoes starts an early production system at the Campos Basin's Atlanta Field.

The FPSO Pioneiro de Libra, which will conduct the long-term well test at Libra, also left the Jurong shipyard in Singapore for Brazil on Tuesday, Petrobras said in a separate statement. The FPSO will be leased by the group developing Libra, which was Brazil's first subsalt field sold under the country's new production-sharing regime. The field is estimated to hold 8 billion-12 billion barrels of recoverable reserves.

The Navion Norvegia tanker was converted to an FPSO capable of pumping 50,000 b/d of oil and processing 4 million cu m/d of gas, according to Petrobras. The FPSO is expected to arrive in Brazil in early June.

"The FPSO will be the first to operate in the Libra block," Petrobras said in the statement. "The long-term well test seeks to reduce risks and optimize definitive production systems for the area."

Petrobras operates the Libra production-sharing area with a 40% stake, while Shell and Total each retain 20% shares. Chinese state oil companies CNPC and CNOOC also each own 10% minority stakes.

The long-term well test at Libra is expected to start in the third quarter of 2017, Petrobras Exploration and Production Director Solange Guedes said last week.

--Jeff Fick,

--Edited by Derek Sands,

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