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Brazil's sub-salt production-sharing fields to pump 3.592 mil b/d of oil by 2030

Estimates cover 17 contracts in subsalt

- Investments to reach $122.7 billion over decade
- Equinor, Shell face field decisions in 2021

By Jeff Flick/Platts

Petroleumworld 11 18 2020S

Brazil expects oil output from subsalt deposits, sold at production-sharing auctions held since 2013, to soar to nearly 3.6 million b/d over the next decade, despite the volatility caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the government's subsalt management company Pre-Sal Petroleo SA, or PPSA, said Nov. 17.

PPSA's latest analysis of the 17 production-sharing contracts currently in place estimated that the fields will produce 3.592 million b/d by 2030, PPSA director general Eduardo Gerk said during a webinar. PPSA represents Brazil's government in the production-sharing agreements, and is responsible for selling the country's share of oil and gas.

"The study estimates that all of the contracts will be in production by 2030," Gerk said.

In September, three fields covered by production-sharing contracts -- Mero, Sapinhoa and Entorno de Iara -- produced 45,000 b/d, PPSA said Nov. 11. Brazil produced a total of 2.907 million b/d in September, including subsalt output not covered by the production-sharing regime, according to the country's National Petroleum Agency, or ANP.

PPSA said the company's latest production outlook took into account the global coronavirus pandemic, which caused a dramatic drop in oil and gas consumption around the world as social-distancing measures limited public mobility. Global oil companies were forced to adjust plans to face the new reality caused by the outbreak, the study noted.

"The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected oil prices and delayed investment plans, is reflected in the analysis," PPSA said. "It's important, however, to note that projects in the segment are considered long term."

The latest production-sharing projection was lower than PPSA's previous report released in November 2019, which estimated that output from the 17 contracts would reach 3.9 million b/d by 2032. The longer time period for the 2019 report was utilized because all investments were expected completed by 2032, Gerk said at the time.

PPSA's estimate, however, aligns with the latest 10-year energy planning report released by the government's Energy Research Co., or EPE. According to the EPE's 2030 forecast, Brazil will produce 5.26 million b/d in 2030, with about two-thirds of production coming from fields covered by production-sharing contracts.

The projections also do not include the Atapu and Sepia fields, which are in the transfer-of-rights area and expected to be sold at a production-sharing auction in 2021, PPSA said. Atapu pumped first oil in June while first oil from Sepia is expected in 2021.

Investments in exploration and production development were estimated at $122.7 billion in 2021-30, PPSA said. That included an estimated $43 billion for 24 floating production units, $36.7 billion for subsea systems, and $43 billion to drill 387 wells over the next decade, PPSA said.


While Brazil's subsalt region holds immense potential, future development will likely take place at the same time the world's transition toward a low-carbon environment appears to be accelerating because of the coronavirus pandemic. Several oil companies active in Brazil, such as Equinor and Shell, have also made pledges to reduce carbon footprints that could affect future plans as the world transitions away from traditional hydrocarbons.

Equinor expects to make a final investment decision on the first phase of the Bacalhau Field in 2021, said Leticia Andrade, the company's acting Brazil country manager, during the webinar. The plan include what would be the biggest floating production, storage and offloading vessel yet installed offshore Brazil at 220,000 b/d and 15 million cu m/d, Andrade said.

An innovative drainage plan was also designed for the field, with all of the field's high gas content expected to be reinjected, Andrade said. "The Bacalhau reservoir is very favorable for reinjection," Andrade said.

Shell, meanwhile, also expects to make a decision to move ahead at the Gato do Mato project in 2021, said Gary Knaresborough, the company's general manager for asset development. Gato do Mato is "not your typical" subsalt field, holding mostly gas and 41 API condensate, Knaresborough said.

"We think it's a hub-scale opportunity, not a multi-FPSO field," Knaresborough said. "We're going to develop the condensate first and then have the option to export gas."




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