Marine Technology Reporter Blogs - petrobras

Abrolhos Islands - Reefs, Humpback Whales and Oil

December 7, 2013

Mapa Abrolhos
Portuguese explorers were the first to arrive at the Abrolhos National Marine Park., having named the islands and sailed along the Caravelas Rivers since 1503. The name Abrolhos is short for open your eyes in Portuguese, and is an indication of the dangers to navigation in the area, which has numerous reef and rock formations just shy of the surface of the sea or even awash, and is dotted with shipwrecks. In 1987, a small remnant humpback whale population was discovered during the Marine Park’s implementation and thus Abrolhos was suggested as the species’ main “nursery” ground on the Western South Atlantic. The Humpback Whale Project was then created to promote research and protection for these mammals in Brazil.

OTC Brasil 2013 – Petrobras Geology & Geophysics Expertise

November 13, 2013

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During the OTC Brasil 2013 there were daily panel session, which covered some interesting themes. On Wednesday, October 30th, the panel session: Perspectives on E&P in the South Atlantic, had as one of its panelists Petrobras’ E&P Director, José Miranda Formigli Filho, known throughout Brazil simply as Formigli. According to Formigli, Petrobras’ knowledge of geology and geophysics (G&G) was vital for the national operator to meet the technological challenges and reach its exploratory success in deepwater pre-salt and post-salt E&P. Formigli estimated that by 2020 the pre-salt production will represent 50% of Petrobras’ output with the potential to reach some 31 billion barrels boe. By 2035, some 39 million barrels per day of new crude oil supply will be needed.

Wave Glider Capabilities and Uses

November 4, 2013

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The Wave Glider is the first unmanned autonomous surface vehicle (ASV) to use wave energy for propulsion. Its ability to stay out at sea gathering data for long periods of time, through all weather conditions, and communicate real-time data from the surface of the ocean, assures it has a wide array of uses both for academia and for the offshore industry. First introduced in 2009, Wave Gliders have since traveled more than 300,000 nautical miles, set a world record for longest distance traveled by an autonomous vehicle, and been deployed on more than 100 customer missions ranging from the Canary Islands and the UK in the Atlantic Ocean to Australia in the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic.

The Process Behind GTL Conversion

June 19, 2013

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Liquid hydrocarbon fuels can be produced from associated natural gas via a well-known catalytic chemical reaction called Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis. The FT synthesis is a collection of chemical reactions that converts a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons. It was first developed by Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch at the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Kohleforschung" in Mülhei an der Ruhr (Germany) in the 1920s. During World War II, FT synthesis provided the needed liquid hydrocarbon fuels for the German war effort. Later, facing isolation during the apartheid era, South Africa turned to FT synthesis from coal gasification to supply significant quantities of its hydrocarbon fuel needs.

PipeWay Tools –Pigging Equipment Made in Brazil

June 15, 2013

PipeWay is also a spinoff from the Genesis Institute run by PUC University in Rio de Janeiro. PipeWay Engeneering is the only company in the Southern Hemisphere with fully national production, which manufactures and operates tools for O&G pipeline inspection, which check anomalies such as oval pipes, crushing and corrosions, contributing to avoid leakages that may cause environmental accidents and safety hazards. PipeWay entered the O&G market in 1998, when the group of researchers from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), by using the technology of Petrobras' Research and Development Center (CENPES), launched a tool for pipe integrity management.

OTC Brasil 2013 – Opening Day Highlights

October 31, 2013

The Offshore Technology Conference Brasil 2013, was only the 2nd time the conference was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yet it was obvious that the conference had grown in size and scope. During the 3 days a long list of interesting and even some exiting Technical Sessions took place, addressing everything from Local Content to the latest in Deepwater Technology. After the Opening Session on Tuesday October 29th, which was presented by OTC and IBP (Brazilian Petroleum Institute) senior executives and the OTC Brasil Technical Program Chairman, the main event was the Topical Luncheon on Planning and Management of Offshore Oil Opportunities in Brazil: Petrobras Perspective, which had as its speaker Petrobras CEO Maria das Graças Foster.

Franco Pre-Salt – New Monster Play in Brazil

October 14, 2013

The Franco pre-salt field, which is located southwest of the massive Libra field that will be auctioned in October 21st, originally had been forecast to contain 3 billion barrels boe of recoverable light oil. In light of new studies, the Franco pre-salt field is now believed to contain recoverable oil volumes equal to or superior to the Libra pre-salt field, something hovering around 10 billion barrels boe. This is excellent news for Petrobras, which is in the process of making major exploratory, production and infrastructure investments and desperately needs new capital. The reason it being excellent news has nothing to do with oil auction…

O&G Mergers and Acquisitions on the rise in Brazil

August 21, 2013

According to data from KPMG consulting there were 22 merger and acquisition operations in the market during the first 6 months of 2013, 4 times higher than in the first semester of 2012. This is mostly due to the 11th round of bidding that took place in April sponsored by the ANP (National Petroleum Agency). According to a KPMG executive, since the O&G sector had not had any bidding rounds for 5 years, a score of new business opportunities arose that attracted many foreign investors. Of these 22 operations, 10 were buy-outs, where foreign companies bought Brazilian companies in order to enter the market. Another fact that relates to…

North Brazil Oil – Deepwater Oil off the State of Pará

August 12, 2013

Brazil’s Equatorial Margin, which is the country's coastline facing north, has recently had offshore exploration blocks acquired by a number of players during the 11 bidding round in early 2013. One of the states with a coastline on the Equatorial Margin, the state of Pará already has proven reserves established by Petrobras, which has been drilling there since the beginning of the year. More recently it has been established that these reserves are economically viable to be explored commercially. Rumors had it that Petrobras was satisfied by the way the exploration effort was developing. The Harpia exploration well, which began drilling in January 2013 in water depths of 2…

Efficient Drill Bits for the Pre-salt

July 23, 2013

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The expression "pre-salt" refers to an aggregation of rocks located offshore along large portions of the Brazilian and West African coasts, it forms a carbonate rock interval that ranges under an extensive layer of salt which, in certain areas of the Brazilian coast, can be as much as 2,000 meters thick. The total depth of these rocks formations, or the distance between the surface of the sea and the oil reservoirs under the salt layer, can be as much as 7,000 meters. Drilling in the pre-salt is extremely complex and may require multiple trips being made by the drill bit in order to drill short lengths due to different rock layers with varying degrees of hardness. Another challenge is that the salt is very corrosive and is also plastic, as you drill down, it tends to close the well walls.

Structural Collapse of Corroded Deepwater Pipelines Subjected to External Pressure

June 20, 2013

Deepwater O&G pipelines, used to transport oil and gas from offshore production units to onshore refineries, are subjected to the corrosive effects of salt water and to massive internal and external pressures. The risk of structural collapse in a pipeline is largely dependent on the levels of internal and external corrosion affecting pipe sections and on the amount of internal and external pressure on the pipe. Corrosion is a time dependent phenomenon that usually requires several years to produce a corrosion defect sufficiently large to cause a significant reduction in the collapse pressure of a pipeline. Consequently during installation it is considered that the pipeline is free of any metal loss due to corrosion.

Offshore GTL – Transforming Natural Associated Gas to Liquid

June 19, 2013

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As gas flaring becomes more unacceptable from political and environmental viewpoints, oilfields with no viable associated gas solution may be required to curtail production or in the extreme case, cease production entirely. There is evidence globally that this is starting to occur and proposals for new oilfield projects in remote or deepwater locations must increasingly demonstrate how the associated gas will be processed without continuous flaring. Gas re-injection sometimes offers a solution but this is expensive for deep wells and not desirable for all reservoir structures. Gas-to-liquids (GTL) processes enable monetization of remote natural gas or other gaseous hydrocarbons by converting them into sulfur-free synthetic crude oil that can be easily transported by tanker.

Subsea Well Response Project to be launched in Brazil

June 15, 2013

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With the continued increase in deepwater drilling off the coast of Brazil, it is good to see that Petrobras, Brazil’s national operator, will soon have a well containment device ready for immediate deployment in case of a deepwater blowout such as was experienced in the Deepwater Horizon tragedy at the GoM. According to a Petrobras drilling inspector who prefers to remain anonymous, the Brazilian super-major player believes that their well drilling and completion systems are totally reliable as long as their safety procedures are followed, however, they are taking no chances and have joined forces with other major operators to increase drilling, completion and production safety standards worldwide.

A Monster Named Libra

June 18, 2013

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Back in 2009 I asked a good friend of my late father, who happened to be a long time Petrobras geologist, if he really knew the full potential of the pre-salt, after a while he looked up and said no not really, I know there are big fields out there, probably up to 10 billion boe in some reservoirs, possibly much more... Well, Petrobras kept on drilling and when Libra was found northeast of the Lula field (5 to 8 billion barrels boe), in 2010, the expectations ran high. Maybe 3.7 billion boe, maybe 15 billion boe. Probably 7.9, those are the numbers the ANP had in 2010. By May 2011 the ANP was downgrading it to 5 billion barrels boe.

Underwater Mountable Thrusters Preferred for Deepwater Drillship

June 15, 2013

Azimuth Thrusters have been propelling deepwater drillships for a number of years now. Not only do they propel the drillships from ports to their drilling stations but also undertake the vital task of maintaining the ship’s position during drilling operations. As most people know deepwater drillships do not anchor but maintain dynamic positioning through the use of groups of thrusters. Depending on the size of the drillship, these may be grouped in threes or fours, and are always positioned fore and aft on traditional drillships. These dispositions vary in semi-submersible drillers and cylindrical drillers such as those developed and used by Sevan Drilling.

Petrobras Pressuring Shipyards to meet Deadlines

June 16, 2013

Petrobras, the Brazilian national O&G operator, is putting pressure on local shipyards to meet deadlines for rig modules and drillship and FPSO hull construction in order for the company to be able to reach 2020 with a daily production 4,2 million barrels boe. Graça Foster president of Petrobras has been personally visiting shipyards such as the Rio Grande shipyard in south Brazil in order to make sure that all is being done to meet the deadlines set by the company. Equipment suppliers for shipyards are also under pressure by the national operator to deliver equipment and services on time. These suppliers are strung all over Brazil and in some cases are based in other countries…

Currents in Brazil’s far North Stop Drilling

June 18, 2013

Brazilian national operator Petrobras had a scare with one of its drilling rigs off the coast of the state of Amapé, the northernmost state in Brazil, where the mouth of the Amazon River is located. Although the drilling rig did not completely loose from its mooring anchors, it did tip to one side in such a way that Petrobras was forced to abandon the well. This accident occurred in December 2012 but as yet the well continues plugged. With this development Petrobras was forced to ask the national O&G regulator ANP (National Petroleum Agency) for a longer deadline to be approved for its exploratory plan in the block located at the Amapá coast, in order to better study the very strong currents that occur in this region.

Brazil´s Floating Offshore Oil Terminal set for 2014

June 18, 2013

Petrobras will launch a world first floating offshore oil terminal in order to be able to transfer oil to oil tankers offshore, beginning in 2014. Up until now the oil had to be transported through pipelines from the offshore rigs to the coast where tankers would load up the oil. It is expected that this new system will decrease oil transportation costs as tankers will be relieved from the high Brazilian port taxes, the tankers will also save up on their own bunker oil as the distances they will have to travel will decrease. The new system should be used mainly for export oil and will also probably be a hub for tankers coming to fill up on deepwater pre-salt oil.

Major Effort to Increase Campos Basin Output

June 15, 2013

Petrobras has set plans to spend $5.6 billion through 2016 to increase output at the Campos Basin mature fields which have had decreased outputs for some time. Most post salt fields at the Campos Basin have been in production since the 1980s, some of which have been major producers. A steep decline in production began around 2009, not only due to the aging fields having low reserves but also because of lack of investments in operational resources and equipment for the older fields. The national operator will invest $1 billion in new money and spend $4.6 billion in operating costs to boost efficiency in the offshore Campos Basin operating unit to historic levels of about 90%, up from 72% in the first quarter of 2012.

C&C Technologies Thriving in the Brazilian AUV Market

June 16, 2013

C&C entered the Brazilian market with its autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) almost ten years ago. The company has had a steady growth in the country and now provides services that involve measurement of water properties, seabed topography, and seabed soil characterization. C&C uses their own vessels as platforms to launch their AUVs, covering the depth range from ultra shallow all the way to ultra deep 4500 meters and their clients use the data acquired by their AUVs to support their underwater infrastructure construction plans. In Brazil the company has enlarged its scope of services on demand by clients after the success of their seafloor mapping technology using side scan sonars mounted on AUVs C&C is also undertaking extensive work in oceanography and environmental monitoring.