Petrobras Adds 100,000b/d with FPSO Marlim Sul Operations

Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) added another 100,000 barrels of oil a day (b/d) to its output capacity Monday after the FPSO Marlim Sul (floating, production, storage and offloading) system started operations on the Campos basin's Marlim Sul field, the company said in a statement.

The platform was leased from American engineering company Single Buoy Moorings (SBM) in January 2003. The rig can store 1.6 million barrels of oil, compress 2.3 million cubic meters of gas a day and inject 125,000 barrels of water.

The Campos basin is Brazil's most productive, and total output averaged 1.2mb/d of oil and natural gas liquids in the first four months of 2004, or about 80% of Brazil's domestic production. The FPSO is located 110km from the shore of Rio de Janeiro state and operates at water depths of 1,160 meters.

The FPSO "is an expensive option because the FPSO market is heated up, but [with international oil prices] at US$40 a barrel, it is worth it," Deloitte Petroleum Services Group analyst Mauro Andrade told BNamericas. "Petrobras is very strict in its economic planning, making sure all its exploration and production investments are feasible."

Heavy crude produced at Marlim Sul is priced at around US$30 a barrel, Andrade said.

The start of operations at the Marlim Sul FPSO kicks off the beginning of a complementary system of the module 1 production, which includes five producing wells, four water re-injection wells and underwater gas pipelines, the statement said.

The Marlim Sul field was discovered in 1987. It has 57 producing wells that reached average output of 151,000b/d in 2003. It has since surprised Petrobras with its production.

"The P-40 platform located there is working at full capacity and this new FPSO system is there to help," Andrade said, adding that the 180,000b/d P-51 platform is also planned for Marlin Sul field.

The P-51 has just been contracted out and is expected to start production in 2008.

The new platform should start production at around 20,000 to 25,000b/d and is expected to reach full output level before year-end, the statement said.

Petrobras has two other FPSOs leased from SBM operating on the Campos basin: the 90,000b/d FPSO Brasil on the Roncador field and the 100,000b/d FPSO Espadarte on the Espadarte/Marimba field.

Petrobras plans to increase total oil production by 49% to 2.3mb/d by 2010 and will start operations of a number of new platforms by then. The Campos basin should receive another two platforms before end-2003, with US engineering company Halliburton expected to deliver the P-43 platform for the Barracuda field in August and the P-48 for the Caratinga field in September. Each platform will have output capacity of 150,00b/d.v

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