Largest private oil producer in Brazil, and one of Petrobras’s largest partners in pre-salt exploration, Shell Brasil will start this year a broad research on the deep-water ecosystem, a region that the Brazilian state has been exploring for years. The study will be done in partnership with the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and University of São Paulo (USP), which will be divided into two expeditions along the southeastern coast of the country.
The research will use a Shell vessel equipped with high technology equipment, including a remote operation vehicle. The goal, according to Shell Brasil, is to gather information to better understand the region and try to understand and reduce the impact of oil exploration on the environment.
Shell is present in large Brazilian pre-salt reservoirs, such as Lula and Sapinhoa, the country’s two largest oil producing fields. In November last year, the two fields produced more than 1.1 million barrels of oil per day , almost half of the total production of 2.5 million barrels per day recorded in the last production bulletin of the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP).
“Making our operations safer and ensuring the preservation of marine life have always been key issues for Shell Brasil. Now, with this project, we can go further, helping the entire industry understand this ecosystem so specific and unobjectionable, ensuring that it is conserved, “said Shell Brasil’s general manager of Subsurface Technologies Aly Brandenburg.
The UFRJ team, with support from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, will map the diversity of corals and sponges, studying how they have adapted to the deep sea environment and how they can respond to environmental changes and disturbances. An advanced aquarium system, known as the “Deep Sea Simulator”, will be built to reproduce and manipulate conditions found on the seabed, and researchers will later develop probiotics with beneficial microbial consortia (BMCs) , which will allow corals to cope better with environmental stressors, including climate change.
Researchers at the USP Institute of Oceanography will systematically look for and monitor oil and natural gas exudates and their consequences for the ecosystem. The study will allow, for example, to understand the microorganisms capable of dispersing hydrocarbons, creating solutions for bioremediations.