Petrobras pumps first oil from offshore Brazil Lula Norte area
RIO DE JANEIRO
Petroleumworld 02 04 2019
Petrobras has put the finishing touches on the first wave of development at the massive offshore Brazil Lula Field, pumping first oil from the latest floating production unit to be installed at the country's largest oil and natural gas producer, the company said Friday.
The FPSO P-67 floating production, storage and offloading vessel, or FPSO, is the ninth FPSO installed at Lula and officially ends the first phase of development at the field, state-led Petrobras said. The FPSO, which was installed at the Lula Norte area, has installed capacity to produce 150,000 b/d and process 6 million cu m/d, according to Petrobras.
"The Lula Field, which includes the Lula and Cernambi reservoirs, is the country's biggest producer and should reach the mark of 1 million barrels of daily production in 2019, less than a decade after commercial production started in October 2010," Petrobras said in a statement. Lula produced 902,918 b/d and 38.2 million cu m/d in November, according to the latest data from Brazil's National Petroleum Agency, or ANP.
Lula was the first of several multibillion-barrel discoveries found trapped under a thick layer of salt more than 7,000 meters deep in the Campos and Santos basins off the coast of Brazil in the mid-2000s to enter production. Petrobras and its partners have since started output at the Sapinhoa and Buzios fields, with growing output from the region known as the subsalt expected to make Brazil one of the world's top 10 oil exporters by the middle of the next decade.
The ANP expects the country's output to reach 7.5 million b/d by 2030, driven by discoveries currently under development as well as new production derived from areas sold off at concession bid rounds and production-sharing auctions held in 2017-2018. Exports are expected to climb to 4 million b/d from 1.1 million b/d currently, according to the ANP.
Development of Brazil's subsalt riches, however, could stretch the global FPSO industry's capacity to the limit. New FPSO construction or adaptation of existing Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCCs, for use as FPSOs is one of the key issues causing development delays, according to Petrobras.
Petrobras initially had plans to install an unprecedented seven FPSOs in 2018, but construction delays caused the company to push three units into 2019. That includes the FPSO P-67 as well as the FPSO P-68 that will be installed at the Berbigao Field and the FPSO P-76 that will be installed at the Buzios Field. The FPSO P-68 and FPSO P-76 are also expected to pump first oil in the first quarter of 2019, according to Petrobras.
While Petrobras has said that the FPSO P-67 will complete the first phase of development at Lula, the company's 2019-2023 business plan released in December includes no further investments at the field.
In addition to the FPSO P-67 at the Lula Norte area, Petrobras has installed the FPSO Cidade de Angra dos Reis at the Lula pilot project area; the FPSO Cidade de Paraty at the Lula Nordeste area; the FPSO Cidade de Mangaratiba at the Iracema Sul area; the FPSO Cidade de Itaguai at the Iracema Norte area; the FPSO Cidade de Marica at the Lula Alto area; the FPSO Cidade de Saquarema at the Lula Central area; the FPSO P-66 at the Lula Sul area; and the FPSO P-69 at the Lula Extremo Sul area.
Petrobras' focus in coming years will instead turn to completion of the Buzios Field, where two FPSO were installed in 2018, two will be installed in 2019 and a fifth will be installed in 2021.
Petrobras also plans to start production at the Mero Field, which will be the first reservoir in the Libra production-sharing area to enter production. Petrobras and its partners at Libra will install two FPSOs in 2021 and 2022, according to the business plan.
The FPSO P-67 will be anchored in waters 2,130 meters deep about 260 kilometers off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state, Petrobras said. Output will be handled via nine production wells, while the FPSO will also be connected to six injection wells.
The vessel's production will be offloaded in ship-to-ship operations via tanker, while gas output will be exported via several subsea pipelines. Petrobras recently connected a new tranche of the Route 1 offshore pipeline to the Mexilhao platform, which should help boost gas exports from subsalt fields such as Lula.
Subsalt fields contain high volumes of associated gas, which limits oil output because the gas can't be burned off in a process known as flaring and must be injected back into the reservoir.
Petrobras owns a 65% operating stake in Lula, which is located in the Santos Basin's BM-S-11 block. Shell holds a 25% minority share, while Portugal's Galp Energia retains the remaining 10%.
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Edited by Richard Rubin from Platts / SPGlobal.
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