Brazil Learns to Extract Light Oil 15,000 Feet Deep

Lula at Petrobras in Jubarte Aboard platform P-34, anchored off the coast of the state of EspÀ­rito Santo, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva participated in a ceremony marking the beginning of production at well 1-ESS-103A, the first to produce light oil from the pre-salt layer in Brazil. Prior to the ceremony, the president watched a presentation given by the manager of Petrobras in charge of the fields of Jubarte and Cachalote, Mauro Coutinho.

"We have got half a Tupi field of total reserves here," stated Coutinho, referring to the mega-field containing reserves ranging from 5 billion to 8 billion barrels of oil discovered in the Santos Basin, located further to the south.

The field of Jubarte, which houses well 103A, is located within the Campos Basin, further north. "It has great potential," asserted the manager, referring to the area known as Parque das Baleias (Whale Park), in the coastline of the state of Espí­rito Santo, which has series of fields named after Cetaceans.

According to him, Whale Park, which includes Jubarte, is like a "geological bunk bed," containing reservoirs above and below the salt layer. "We are producing 50,000 barrels of oil per day here, and this is only the beginning of development," he claimed.

The P-34 began extracting oil in the region in late 2006 and, before entry into operation of well 103A, it used to operate four wells located above the salt layer. Production at one of them was temporarily interrupted for the new well to start operating, as it uses the same pipelines.

The use of existing structures enabled Petrobras to invest only 58 million reais (US$ 35.2 million) for 103A to become operational, a figure regarded as low for the oil industry. Time required for entry into operation was also reduced, as the well was discovered in October last year. "It was cheap," said Lula.

The president was accompanied by the minister of the Presidential Administration, Dilma Roussef, the minister of Mines and Energy, Edson Lobão, the president of Petrobras, José Sérgio Gabrielli, and the governor of Espí­rito Santo, Paulo Hartung.

Minister Dilma asked whether all fields in the region had already been tendered. Coutinho replied that most of them did, and that Petrobras owns rights to the majority of them and that Shell, in partnership with the Brazilian state-owned company, operates at least two areas. According to him, some blocs to the west and south of Whale Park have not been tendered yet.

The Brazilian government has not yet set the legal model to be adopted for production in the pre-salt layer of the Santos Basin. An inter-ministerial commission was created that should submit a report to the president of the Republic by the end of this month.

Well 103A is located 103 kilometers (64 miles) away from Vitória, capital of the state of Espí­rito Santo, at 4,450 meters (14,600 feet) of total depth, 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) of water depth, and 200 meters (656 feet) deep into the salt layer.

The Tupi reserves are located much deeper, at approximately 6,000 meters (19,700 feet), 2,000 meters (6560 feet)into the salt layer. Still, Petrobras believes that production in Espí­rito Santo will be important as a test for extracting oil from the pre-salt in the Santos Layer.

The well has potential for producing 18,000 barrels of light oil per day, a figure regarded as "spectacular" by Petrobras, given the fact that the same structure used in the appraisal phase is being used for drilling, including a vertical well of smaller diameter, and therefore lower rate of flow than a regular well.

Petrobras is extracting oil from the site as a test for approximately two weeks now. And activity was not entirely trouble-free. According to Coutinho, there was an occasion when the well stopped producing.

The press watched the ceremony from the continent by means of a TV broadcast made by Petrobras.

Anba

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