Petrobras looks to bring down Libra costs

Cost cutting: Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne (left) and Petrobras CEO Pedro Parente

Brazilian national oil company Petrobras has put in motion an ambitious plan designed to bring down capital expenditure at the giant Libra pre-salt field in the Santos basin in an effort to improve its economics.

Nicknamed “Libra 35”, the initiative is being conducted by Petrobras and its Libra production-sharing-contract partners, including Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell, France’s Total, China National Petroleum Corporation and China National Offshore Oil Corporation.

“The programme has multiple goals, including an extensive investment review in the project’s development to cut costs by 35% in order to achieve a breakeven price of $35 per barrel and get a recovery factor of 35%,” Petrobras exploration and production director Solange Guedes told reporters in a joint Petrobras-Total press conference during the Rio Oil & Gas conference.

“We have the same figures. Libra is a very good project and all the partners are aligned,” Total chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said at the same event.

According to Guedes, the consortium is analysing all opportunities to achieve such reductions, ranging from optimising subsea infrastructure and topsides on floating production, storage and offloading vessels, to drainage solutions.

“We are not leaving anything behind. The oil industry has to come up with different approaches for projects, and we are bringing everything to the table so we can have Libra as competitive as possible,” Guedes said.

“We have experts from all five companies working together, and it is such a joy to see that work being conducted. The best way to come up with solutions where apparently there are no longer opportunities for improvement is by working together.”

Guedes also said the idea is to identify potential reductions in the life cost cycle of Libra’s entire project portfolio, starting with the Libra pilot FPSO, which is currently being tendered.

“We have to be able to deliver the best project possible regardless of the oil price. The oil industry always has to do the best it can to improve its performance,” said Guedes.

“If oil prices reach $100 per barrel again, we are not going to relax and feel comfortable. The $35 per barrel breakeven target is a way the consortium is saying we will not accept anything higher than that. It’s our ceiling.”

Petrobras intends to begin production from Libra next year via a series of extended well tests with the Pioneiro de Libra FPSO.

Two larger units are to begin commercial output later on, with the Libra pilot FPSO scheduled to enter operation in the second half of 2020 and the Libra NW floater due for 2021.

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