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Petrobras baptizes its first extra-heavy oil production platform


Petrobras baptized the FPSO Petrojarl Cidade de Rio das Ostras vessel platform, which is slated to be installed in the Badejo field, in the Campos Basin (state of Rio de Janeiro), at a water depth of 95 m and 80 kilometers off the coast. This is the first Brazilian maritime platform designed to produce extra-heavy oil.

According to Petrobras’ Exploration and Production director, Guilherme Estrella, “the project will unveil important scenarios for offshore extra-heavy oil production, a challenge the world over. It will also provide information that will allow the appropriation of non-proved extra-heavy oil reserves.”

Capable of processing average 12.8 degree API (density measurement championed by the American Petroleum Institute) and 300 cP (viscosity measurement) oil in reservoir conditions – the heaviest and most viscous oil to be produced in Brazilian offshore fields –, the unit will be used as a pilot production project for the Siri reservoir, which is located in that field. An FPSO (floating oil production, storage and offloading vessel) platform, this vessel will be capable of producing up to 15,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).

The information obtained during the testing phase will be used in the definitive development project for the reservoir, which foresees drilling several wells and, later, the installation of a new platform. More than a new production system, the FPSO Cidade de Rio das Ostras will be a lab for the development of other offshore extra-heavy oil fields such as Marlim Leste, Albacora Leste, Papa-Terra, and Maromba, all in the Campos Basin.

The project’s technological hurdles are immense. The challenges include building a well with a 2-km horizontal section and installing a high-power submersible centrifugal pump (SCP) to ensure high flow rates for the oil that is produced. Other difficult tasks involve separating the water and the gas that are produced, over and beyond processing this type of oil, a procedure that will demand extremely high operating temperatures (140º C).

Chartered from Canadian-Norwegian outfit Teekay-Petrojarl, the new platform is the outcome of the conversion of an oil tanker into an FPSO. The vessel is capable of lifting, from two wells, up to 15,000 bpd and of storing up to 200,000 barrels. The unit is scheduled to go online late in the third quarter of 2008.

The Siri reservoir has been known to hold oil since 1975. However, since the first tests showed very low flow rates, production had thus far not been considered economically viable. Thanks to the application of new technologies, however, among which drilling horizontal well 9-BD-18HP (the biggest of this type in Brazil), the company has been able to prove the reservoir’s excellent productivity.

The mayor of Rio das Ostras, Carlos Augusto Balthasar, thanked the company for picking the town’s name for the platform. “We are very pleased Petrobras, Brazil’s biggest company, has associated our town’s name to this vessel.”


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