Pipe laying at All Time High in Brazil
As deepwater O&G discoveries abound up and down the coast in Brazil and as the early pre-salt discoveries begin to produce, along with other post-salt deepwater discoveries. All three main Basins; Campos, Santos and Espirito Santo are seeing a marked increase in pipe laying by all super major players involved in the development of deepwater plays in Brazil. There has also been an increase in custom deepwater pipe and flowline manufacturing and in the acquisition and leasing of pipelaying vessels for the Brazilian oil frontier.
The newest order announced is for the supply of electrical power systems and energy efficient propulsion systems for two deepwater pipe laying vessels with the total order value being $18 million. Daewoo chose ABB to supply these systems. The vessels will be built by South Corean giant Daewoo Shipping and Marine Engineering.
Once the construction is complete the vessels will be delivered to an joint venture composed of Technip (which also manufactures flowlines in Brazil) and Brazilian junior player Odebrecht O&G for laying flowlines to connect deepwater subsea wells to FPSOs. The vessels are capable of laying pipes and flowlines up to a depth of 2,500 meters (8,325 feet) and will be hired by Petrobras to continue its effort to equip its vast array of deepwater pre salt wells along the Brazilian coast. Many of these wells are far from the coast, some being as far as 300 km.
Petrobras is trying to minimize the need to lay very long deepwater pipelines from these remote plays to shore as maintenance and monitoring of such huge pipelines would demand high costs.
The Brazilian national operator is working on novel ideas to use FPSOs to store the light oil from the pre-salt, which demands less refining and use these FPSOs anchored over the deepwater wells to offload the processed light oil directly to tankers for export, thus decreasing the delivery time and basically cutting out port taxes.
A continued increase in pipe and flowline construction is expected for the near future, as is the order for pipe laying vessels. This in turn brings good business to service and equipment providers such as ABB.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian maritime equipment industry, most of the orders for propulsion, pumps, valves and electrical systems are going to foreign manufacturers due to the low rate of the dollar (although this has been changing recently) and also to the fact that most foreign and even local shipbuilders are skeptical about the quality of some of the equipment produced by local companies and prefer to place their orders to established global industry names. This is also slowly changing as local manufacturers increase their quality standards but are still far from being considered truly dependable.
Claudio Paschoa is Marine Technology Reporter's correspondent in Brazil.