Libra programme in the crosshairs for cost reductions

As Petrobras presses forward with efforts to put its house in order after the ravages wrought by the Car Wash corruption scandal and the oil price collapse, the Brazilian state oil giant is turning its attention to boosting the economics of major development programmes such as that at the giant Libra pre-salt field, writes Fabio Palmigiani.

At Libra, the oil company has put in motion an ambitious plan to bring down capital expenditure through a venture called “Libra 35” that it is pursuing in partnership with its production sharing contract partners 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 break-even price of $35 per barrel and get a recovery factor of 35%,” said Petrobras exploration and production director Solange Guedes at the Rio Oil & Gas conference in Rio de Janeiro this week.

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

According to Guedes, the consortium is analysing all opportunities to achieve cost 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 added that the idea is to identify potential to achieve reductions in the life cycle cost 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 break-even 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 then planned to begin commercial output, with the Libra pilot FPSO scheduled to enter operations in the second half of 2020 and the Libra NW floater due for 2021.

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