Offshore Port for Pre-salt Oil in 2012
Petrobras has decided on a novel way to transfer pre-salt oil to export and local market tankers from a maritime operations base. The projects named “Unidade Offshore de Transferência e Exportação” (UOTE) or Offshore Transfer and Export Unit (OTEU), will work as a floating port terminal.
Due to the distance from land of pre-salt plays such as Tupi, which is nearly 300km from the nearest coast. The national operator chose to use an DP enabled FSO anchored in shallow waters, 80 to 90km from the coast Rio, in around 70 meters of water to receive and store production oil from shuttle tankers loaded at the production FPSOs, over the pre-salt plays. The FSO will have a capacity to store 2 million barrels of oil and will be connected to underwater pipelines. These dedicated pipelines will transfer the stored oil through mono-buoys to tankers which will take the produce to refineries on the Brazilian mainland or sail to foreign ports with their export oil cargo. It is expected that the main use of the OTEUs will mostly be used for export oil transfers, as this should lessen the export costs, since the tankers will not need to pay high port fees.
According to the project, the OTEUs will prioritize pre-salt oil produced by Petrobras and its partners. The first unit is slated to become operational in 2012 or 2013 along the coast of Rio de Janeiro, probably off the city of Macaé, at a cost of $300 to $350 million per unit, with a total infrastructure cost of around $500 million. It is forecast that Petrobras will likely install a few OTEUs in the following years in order to expedite the pre-salt produce exports.
The project call for a large number of AHTSs and large tow vessels to support the shuttle tankers in anchoring and offloading oil to the FSO and loading the oil from the mono-buoys to the export tankers. PSVs with ROV capabilities will continuously be on station to monitor and inspect the pipelines and riser systems for leaks, therefore decreasing the risks of spills during the offloading and loading processes. Smaller motorboats will also be constantly on patrol monitoring proceedings and for rescue operations.
As the discovery rate of the Brazilian pre-salt continues unabated, including a new Santos Basin pre-salt discovery announced today by Petrobras. The discovery resulted from drilling well 4-BRSA-818 (4-RJS-668), named Macunaíma, at a water depth of 2,134 meters, located in the 1-RJS -617D (Parati) assessment area and 244 km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro State. The discovery was confirmed through oil logging via cable test in the reservoirs located at a depth of about 5,680 meters. Petrobras is the operator of the consortium for the exploration of block BM-S-10 (65%), which is also composed of BG Group (25%) and Partex Brasil (10%). Along with new discoveries is the fact that the main Tupi play is expected to be producing 100 thousand barrels per day by the end of the years, making it a sound decision to prepare alternatives for pre-salt oil downstream infrastructure and not be totally dependent on subsea pipelines going for hundreds of kilometers, although these will definitely be used for pre-salt gas production.