Before decommissioning

June 19, 2019

Operators assess how to raise mature field productivity. 42% of platforms in Brazil are over 25 years old

The average recovery factor of the oil production fields in Brazil is 21%. In the Campos Basin, this percentage is even lower: 14%. The world average is 35%, which represents a gap of the order of 20%. The National Agency for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) estimates that, at the end of the useful life of the mature fields of the Campos Basin, it is possible to increase these factors to 23%. The agency estimates that each 1% more of recovered oil represents approximately one billion barrels and generation of special participations and royalties.

“Brazil does not have the recovery factor average practiced in other regions of the world,” said Marcelo Mafra, the superintendent of operational safety and environment of the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), in a seminar at Ecobrasil . It associates the factor lower than that practiced in other markets to the lack of technological investments and a closer look at these mature fields.

Decommissioning of platforms may become necessary at the end of contracts without a prospect of renewal or even when the field is no longer economically feasible, either through productivity or through the variation of oil prices. In April 2017, the Brent price hit $ 28 a barrel. Two years earlier, the barrel cost $ 60 and three years earlier, it was above $ 100. Between 2010 and 2012, the average was $ 120 / barrel.

Mafra added that Petrobras’ divestment program may extend the life of some fields as new entrants will be able to try to broaden their recovery, invest, bring new technologies and seek to reuse existing infrastructure, extending life some equipment.

Revitalization in production may in some cases be a solution to obsolete fields and an alternative to immediate decommissioning. The revitalization plan for the Marlim field, for example, provides that three units (P-18, P-19 and P-20) will be decommissioned for entry of two new units giving another production profile. The field, which produced 600,000 barrels per day in 2008, today has production of around 130,000 barrels per day.

The 85 pre-salt fields today account for 55% of the oil produced in Brazil. The motivations for decommissioning go through the price of the barrel, the end of the field production, the end of the contract and changes in the development strategies of the field. “The platform can have extended life. But at some point, it is going to have to stop [operation], “Mafra analyzed.

Since 2016, ANP has been working on the revision of its resolution 27/2006, the offshore decommissioning standard. It is expected that the process will be completed in July 2019. The main problem today is that the time of decommissioning does not keep up with the time of the business. According to Mafra, 180 days before the activity is not enough for the agency to evaluate a process of this size and complexity. The strategy adopted is to bring the planning approach.

The ANP participates in a working group together with the Brazilian Navy and Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). The review of the decommissioning standard brings regulatory, technical and operational / technological challenges. Mafra highlighted the need for availability of vessels and ports, shipyards and support bases, as well as structures for waste management and management of tailings NORM (naturally occurring radioactive material).

The proposal foresees that the operator will start talking with the agency five years before the forecast of ending the offshore production. The ANP will have a year and a half of time to respond to the partial decommissioning plan. After approval, 180 days for presentation of the decommissioning program, detailed plan, details of alternatives. Up to three months before decommissioning commences, operational risk assessment shall occur. The viability of the solutions, regardless of the chosen option, must be included in the decommissioning plan presented. In the case of water depths less than 100 meters, the proposal provides for the cutting located up to 3m deep.

Of the 158 oil production units in Brazil, 42% (66 platforms) are over 25 years, 15% (23) are between 15 and 25 years and 44% (69) are less than 15 years old. The oldest units are in Sergipe / Alagoas (22), Campos (21), Potiguar (10) and Espírito Santo. The newest are in Campos (29), Santos (22) and Potiguar (12). Most units are fixed platform, FPSO or semi-submersible.

The ANP approved five decommissioning programs for: Brazil (Roncador / FPSO), Marlim Sul (Marlim Sul / FPSO), Rio de Janeiro City (Espadarte / FPSO), Rio das Ostras (Green Turtle / FPSO) and Cação ( Cação / 3 Fixed). Until the closing of this edition, the decommissioning programs of: P-07 (Bicudo / semi-sub) P-12 (Sole / semi-sub), P-15 (Piraúna / semi-sub), P-33 (Marlim – FPSO), Piranema Spirit (Piranema / FPSO) and PARB-3 (Arabaiana / Fixa).

The decommissioning of the following platforms is planned for the coming years: P-18 (Marlim / semi-sub), P-19 (Marlim / semi-sub), P-20 (Marlin / FPSO), P-37 (Marlim / FPSO), P-47 (Marlim / FPSO), Capixaba (Cachalote / FPSO) and Production Systems in the Northeast.

Source: Portos e Navios Magazine

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