Commercial Gas Production Started at the Manati Field

Commercial natural gas production was started on February 9th at the Manati Project, which had been in pre-operation since January 15. A ceremony attended by president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and by Petrobras' president, Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo, which was held at the gas treatment station located in Sao Francisco do Conte, some 100 kilometers from Salvador, marked full production going online.

"This is an important historical moment," said Petrobras' president, Jose Sergio Gabrielli. "I am a witness of the struggle to solve the gas issue in Bahia. There were difficult moments, because demand was on the increase, and production just couldn't keep up with such growth. That is all over now."

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called attention to the fact that not only were government decisions carried out, but homework done as well. "We started the 21st century committed to not repeat the same mistakes we made in the 20th century and to not squander opportunities in the new century. We will make all investments and partnerships we need to prevent discouragements or negative facts such as the 2001 blackout."

Located in the Camamu Basin, in the Lower Southern portion of Bahia, the Manati field is producing some 2,000,000 cubic meters of natural gas per day out of two wells drilled last year. Five more wells will be drilled by late 2007, allowing production potential to surge to 6,000,000 cubic meters per day.

In total, 18,000 direct jobs were generated during the project's main construction phases (gas pipeline, production platform, and treatment station). Total investments are expected to top-out at $580 million, $422 million of which have already been invested.

The gas that comes from the Manati field flows to the treatment station through a gas pipeline that crosses offshore and onshore sections along the Cairu, Velença, Jaguaripe, Maragogipe, Salinas da Margarida, and Sao Francisco do Conde municipalities. The offshore/onshore gas pipeline's is 24" in diameter and nearly 125 km long.

From the station (that will be renamed as the Geophysicist Vandemir Ferreira Station, in tribute to Petrobras' former manager in Bahia who passed away recently), the treated gas goes to a transference network which, initially, will supply the Fertilizer plant (Fafen), the Landulpho Alves Refinery (RLAM), and the Rômulo Almeida thermoelectric plant (formerly Fafen Energia). Next month, it is also expected the gas will be provided to the Bahiagas distributor, from where it will be made available to the market.

The Manati field went online and has already made a decisive contribution to consolidate the Northeastern Brazilian gas market. Explored by the consortium formed by Petrobras (the operator), Queiroz Galvao, and Norse Energy, it sets a new horizon for natural gas production in Bahia and ranks the state as Brazil's second biggest producer in terms of market availability.

The best technical and socio-environmental alternatives were evaluated and adopted during project conception. The platform is fully automated and equipped with a monitoring system that allows it to be controlled remotely and, thus, it is totally uninhabited. Integrated to the gas treatment station, the platform's extension was reduced to minimize its visual impact. About ten location alternatives were studied during route definition, and the delineation took socio-environmental and technical and economical viability variables into account.

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