The Campos Basin Completes 30 Years of production with Renewed Energy

The Campos Basin, the biggest oil-producing basin off the Brazilian coast, completed 30 years of production this week. This basin currently accounts for nearly 84% of Brazil's oil production. About 1.49 million barrels of oil and 22 million cubic meters of gas are lifted from there a day, and its potential is far from being depleted. According to company forecasts, it will reach 2010 producing 1.8 million barrels of oil and 34.6 million cubic meters of gas per day.

The Campos Basin has made a decisive contribution to keeping the Brazilian trade balance stable. In fact, in 1981, when oil consumption in Brazil was only 1,117,000 barrels per day, the country spent $11.7 billion with oil imports. In those days, Brazil only produced 213,000 barrels per day - about 19% of the volume required to supply internal demand. That year, in spite of all the rationing and contraction in consumption, Brazil was forced to import 884,700,000 barrels per day. Bearing in mind internal consumption now hovers around 1,800,000 barrels per day, with the market Brent price at about $70 a barrel, if we had to import this volume, the expense, in foreign exchange, would be nearly $104 million per day.

The onset

The first field with commercial volume discovered in the Campos Basin was Garoupa, in 1974, at a depth of 100 meters. The Namorado field was discovered the following year, while Enchova was found in 1976. And it was there, in Enchova, that commercial oil production was kicked off in the Campos Basin, on August 13, 1977.

Pressured by high oil import costs and by the urgent need to trim Brazilian dependence on imported oil, it was at this basin that Petrobras created one of the most advanced production development concepts in the world, one that would serve as a model for the industry. Seeking to slash the delay between discovery and production, company technicians opted to install the first Anticipated Production System (APS) on a floating platform in Enchova. The conventional offshore production systems adopted the world over had a very long maturation time, ranging from four to six years. With the APS, the delay between discovery and early production was slashed to a mere four months, leading to great agility, operating flexibility and huge savings in investments. This allowed the company to kick production off while definitive fixed platforms, which would be installed later on, were under construction.

With 45 fields in production spread throughout a 100 thousand square kilometer area, the Campos Basin ranges from the State of Espirito Santo, near the city of Vitoria, to the Arraial do Cabo, off the northern coast of the State of Rio de Janeiro. Petrobras assembled one of the world's biggest oil complexes in this basin: about 2,350 wells have been drilled in search of oil and gas, and 45 offshore platforms are operating there, 41 of which producing and four processing oil.

New challenges

Although it has already produced more than 6.5 billion barrels of oil and gas, this basin still stores about 80% of the oil reserves Petrobras has discovered in Brazil. To increase the recovery of the oil that still remains in its fields, the company has been making heavy investments in researching and developing technologies that will be capable of boosting these area's useful life to its greatest potential. Of the 55 fields that currently exist in the Campos Basin, 36 are considered mature, i.e., they have already capped their production. By applying these new technologies, Petrobras was able to increase the oil recovery factor in the basin as a whole by 3% from 2004 to 2006. In other words, it increased the percentage of oil extracted from these fields' oil reservoirs to 35.4%, up from 32.4%.

Another important challenge Petrobras will have to face at the Campos Basin in the upcoming years will be venturing out into increasingly deep waters in search of new oil and gas reserves. Recent studies show that 50% of the reserves yet to be discovered in Brazil are in deep waters.

The Campos Basin has already piled up important world records in oil exploration and production depths. Among them is the drilling of the RO-21 producing well, in the Roncador field. At that site, the drilling to produce oil reached a depth of 1,886 between the surface and the ocean floor. And the drilling to explore new oil accumulations maxed out at a depth of 2,853 meters, at well 1-RJS-567, in block BC-100.

Two new production platforms are scheduled to go online in the Campos Basin late this year: P-52 and P-54. With this addition, production will be reinforced by 360,000 barrels of oil and 15 million cubic meters of gas per day, 20% of the company's current production in Brazil, making a significant contribution to maintaining the country's oil self-sufficiency, a milestone reached in 2006.

Petrobras' success at the Campos Basin is, first and foremost, the outcome of the dedication and competency of thousands of Brazilian citizens. This basin has been the major open-air lab for the domestic oil industry. Technologies that turned Petrobras into a global reference in deepwater exploration and production were tested in it, a process that involved partnerships with dozens of universities, both in Brazil and abroad, in addition to working alongside good and service vendors and regulatory agencies. No less than 52,000 people work there, among company employees and outsourcers rendering services to Petrobras. Of this total, about 42,000 workers do their job in the sea - both on platforms and performing support services.