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calendar   Monday - March 07, 2011

Drill, baby, Drill

Drill Here? No.

Drill There? Yes!





Brazil opens Lula oil field, starts pumping oil, only 3 years after discovery.



image

The Cidade de Angra dos Reis



ON BOARD THE CIDADE DE ANGRA DOS REIS — Brazil’s quest to remake itself into a global oil superpower is gaining momentum on this giant ship anchored about 200 miles south of Rio de Janeiro in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Crews on this tanker-like vessel recently began extracting the first barrels of oil from a giant field known as Lula, more than three miles below, that has been called the biggest oil discovery in the Americas in three decades. Production is still at a trickle as the project ramps up. But lessons learned here will be critical in developing a vast network of nearby “pre-salt” reservoirs that are estimated to hold 50 billion to 100 billion barrels of oil — enough to turn Brazil into one of the world’s top five producers of crude.

“The challenges to develop this area are very big,” Humberto Americano Romanus, a senior engineer with Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, acknowledged as he stood on the Cidade de Angra Dos Reis on a hot, clear February day in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer. The stakes may be even bigger. Expected oil wealth from the region could be a “passport to the future,” as Brazil’s new President Dilma Rousseff said, for what is already one of the fastest-growing emerging economies in the world.

But there remain many technical challenges to pulling barrels of oil out of fields buried beneath more than a mile of water and two miles of rock. High pressures and corrosive conditions can wreak havoc on equipment, while a thick layer of shifting salt poses the constant threat of well bores collapsing in on themselves.

In addition, Brazilian lawmakers last year passed new protectionist regulations for the pre-salt region that some experts fear will add costs and impede growth.The situation highlights how the soaring promise of investing in a fast-growing developing nation like Brazil often collides with the frustrating reality of operating there. Still, experts say, when it comes to oil and gas, Brazil may be too good an opportunity to pass up.

Announced in 2007, the Lula field - originally called Tupi - was Brazil’s first major pre-salt discovery and is estimated to have 6.5 billion recoverable barrels of oil. It will figure prominently in Petrobras’ plan to spend $224 billion between now and 2014 on projects that double its current output of 2 million barrels per day.

The Cidade de Angra dos Reis - a giant vessel called a floating production, storage and offloading unit, or FPSO - moved into position in October. Anchored by more than a dozen pilings plunged into the seabed, it is producing about 14,000 barrels of oil a day. But soon it will reach 100,000 barrels per day as more wells come online and a natural gas pipeline is connected in March.

The FPSO Cidade de Angra dos Reis MV22 is moored in 2,149m of water in the Tupi field, Santos Basin. [ Just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro ]

MODEC converted the VLCC “M/V Sunrise IV” into the FPSO. The FPSO is capable of processing up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day and 5 million m3 of gas. The facility is designed for H2S and CO2 removal and is capable of reinjecting CO2 downhole at 550 bar [ 8000psi ] in addition to exporting sales gas to shore. The FPSO will initially gather production from five subsea wells and has the ability to accommodate four additional production wells in the future.

Perhaps just as valuable as the oil coming from those wells will be the knowledge gained at Lula - whose name changed in December from Tupi to the Portuguese word for “squid,” and perhaps not coincidentally, is the name by which popular former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a champion of offshore development, is known to Brazilians.

It was on this vessel last fall that Lula, wearing bright orange coveralls, a hard hat and safety glasses, held up his crude-stained hands for the cameras to mark the start of oil production at the field.

Petrobras CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo said the idea at the Lula field is to proceed slowly, determine how the pre-salt reservoirs behave and then apply the best recovery methods.
“The only way to learn with new reserves is producing,” he told reporters in a recent group interview at Petrobras corporate headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. “That’s what we are doing.”


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/07/2011 at 07:00 PM   
Filed Under: • Oil, Alternative Energy, and Gas Prices •  
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