By Marcela Canavarro, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The national oil company Petrobras started to extract oil from new reserves discovered in 2006 in Bacia de Santos. A new platform was inaugurated on May 1st, an iconic date to represent the first step on a long path to produce thousands of new oil barrels a day. It might put Brazil among the selected countries that export oil.
The production is yet for non-commercial purposes and counts with foreign partners Galp, from Portugal, and British Gas, from United Kingdom. Tests will be running for 15 months to figure out technical parameters that will define a new business model for petroleum industry in Brazil, including other fields in Bacia de Santos that haven’t been exploited yet.
Bacia de Santos is made by different oil fields and ‘Campo de Tupi’ is the first to start working among nine that will be exploited to produce oil. After current tests, Petrobras plans to implement a pilot-project in the end of 2010 in Campo de Tupi, which would produce 100,000 barrels a day of oil and 4,000,000m“ of natural gas, accordingly to Petrobras projections.
Petrobras owns an advanced technology to exploit oil under deep water but the challenge in Bacia de Santos is never seen in Brazilian oil industry. The oil is placed in an extremely deep level known as pre-salt – located 5,313m deep, including 2,000m of salt.
According to the Brazilian government’s projections, the efforts to develop a new technology to exploit oil in Bacia de Santos might generate 5 to 8 billion barrels of oil.
“The pre-salt oil represents Brazil’s second Independence”, said president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva last Friday, who believes pre-salt oil profits should be invested in social programs, specially in educational sector.
Petrobras announced that a new logistic will be developed to transport workers and equipment to the new platforms to be built in Bacia de Santos as they are located about 290 kilometers far from the coast. Also, new ways to store and transport produced oil must be created.
In the current phase, tests will analyze characteristics of pre-salt oil, such as how reserves behave on a long term production; how to drain and move fluids; and the best geometry to build pipes through salt. The reserve is among rocks with totally new characteristics comparing to what have been done until now by the Brazilian oil industry.
Reserves in Bacia de Santos are located in a 8,000km” extension from Santa Catarina (South of Brazil) to Espírito Santo (Southeast) States. The first laboratory to study pre-salt conditions was inaugurated last week in Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) at a cost of R$30 million. The government plans to build other similar laboratories at different universities around the country.
The goverment also expects to define a new regulatory system for oil business in Brazil in order to increase national profits. Ferreira de Oliveira, executive-president of Galp, affirmed the Portuguese company is aware that exploiting oil in Brazil will be more difficult in the future. He was one of the foreign partners at the inauguration last Friday and said Galp has “no worries” since Brazilian Ministry of Energy guaranteed that all “contracts will be respected”.
Brazilian authorities believe a new regulatory system will be presented in two months.
“We are now in a kind of final phase. There is not much time left and we have a responsibility to show a new regulatory system for our oil industry. That’s urgent”, Lula said in a press conference.