Petrobras puts Libra on fast track

Ambitious plan to deploy fleet of FPSOs in Santos basin pre-salt field early next decade

Brazilian oil giant Petrobras is making the Libra development its number one priority, as an ambitious plan designed to fast-track output takes shape with the deployment of as many as four floating production, storage and offloading vessels in the Santos basin pre-salt field early next decade.

Fernando Borges, Petrobras executive manager for the Libra project, said that on top of the two FPSOs already made public when the company unveiled its new five-year business plan through to 2021, the state-controlled player will have two more floaters in operation in Libra in the following years.

The timeline calls for the installation of the Libra pilot FPSO in September 2020, followed by Libra 2 in June 2021, Libra 3 in October 2022 and Libra 4 in April 2023.

All units will produce in the north-western section of the field.

“We will start commercial output at Libra in the north-west because of the quality of the reservoir we discovered in that area,” Borges said during last week’s Rio Oil & Gas conference.

He added the Libra pilot and Libra 2 FPSOs will have capacity to produce 180,000 barrels per day of oil and 12 million cubic metres per day of natural gas each, but admitted larger units able to handle up to 225,000 bpd could be used, starting with Libra 3.

Petrobras is currently tendering for the Libra pilot floater and is due to receive offers on 16 December.

The unit will be installed in about 2000 metres of water and will be developed through a total of 17 wells, including eight oil producers and nine injectors.

Borges said the same subsea configuration is eyed for the Libra 2 FPSO with steel lazy-wave riser systems.

Petrobras intends to re-inject all gas from the Libra pilot into the reservoir to increase oil recovery.

However, the company is considering the feasibility of exporting some of the gas from the Libra 2 floater, possibly by connecting the field to the Route 2 pipeline.Libra has a high gas-to-oil ratio of 410 cubic metres to 450 cubic metres, with carbon dioxide accounting for about 45% of the produced gas.

Borges suggested Petrobras will launch a tender for the charter of the Libra 2 FPSO next year, with subsequent tenders for Libra 3 and Libra 4 taking place before the end of the decade.

“While we are prioritising the north-west with the first four ­FPSOs, we are also running parallel studies to assess the potential of the central and south-eastern portions of Libra to possibly deploy new production systems there in the future,” said Borges.

“We expect to make a final investment decision on how to proceed in Libra central and Libra south-east by 2019.”

First oil from Libra will begin to flow in mid-2017 via a series of extended well tests starting in Libra NW.

Each test is expected to last 12 months and produce more than 40,000 bpd by means of the ­Pioneiro de Libra FPSO.

Borges said integration work on the unit at Jurong Shipyard in Singapore is currently 80% complete.

Petrobras operates the Libra production sharing contract with a 40% stake and is partnered by European players Shell and Total on 20% each, with China National Petroleum Corporation and China National Offshore Oil Corporation on 10% each.

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