Apr 15, 2020
The oil companies operating in Brazil disbursed, in 2019, approximately R $ 1.9 billion in research, development and innovation projects. Despite the amount being lower in comparison with the previous year (decrease of 4.5%), companies kicked off a large volume of projects that promise to bring many advances to the exploration and production of oil and gas in the country. Petronotícia brought together some of these initiatives to explain how they can improve the activities of these companies in Brazil. Starting with the subsea segment, Petrobrás and Shell, for example, started a project to develop a subsea power system.
The companies’ objective is to develop this system to enable projects to increase production in mature fields and reduce installation costs in new fields. One detail draws attention: the technology will have high local content, the two oil companies promise. In addition to systemic studies, the project will develop solutions for the use of conventional surface equipment in an underwater environment. The planned investment is R $ 12.6 million and the initiative, which started in October, will last for 12 months.
Another interesting novelty, within the subsea area, is the development of a flexible pipeline inspection system using high power computed tomography. The idea is being led by Shell and has an investment of R $ 22 million. The objective of the system will be the generation of a three-dimensional (3D) model of the ducts, allowing the identification of several types of damage and potential failure modes. As is known, the Brazilian pre-salt collects a history of rupture of flexible risers, due to the corrosive environment of the region.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN WELLS AND WIND TURBINES IN DEEP WATERS
Getting out of the subsea area, another segment that has received a lot of attention from oil companies is digitalization. Petrobrás, for example, started a research to monitor oil wells and production through Artificial Intelligence (AI). The idea here is to create classifiers, with AI techniques and real and simulated oil production data, that detect and classify undesirable and harmful events to the upstream process.
The state-owned company is also investing in an intelligent system project to implement supervision, through images, in the operating environments of oil well drilling rigs, using video analytics technology. The total amount of resources allocated to this project alone exceeds R $ 10 million.
Another project that deserves to be highlighted, and that has already been reported by Petronotícia, was the expansion of the capacity of Petrobras’ supercomputer Santos Dumont. More than R $ 63 million were invested, which elevated the equipment to the status of leader in the highest performance ranking in Latin America. It will be used in studies of seismic processing and simulation of reservoirs, as well as in the optimization of well drilling and production projects – in the Santos Basin pre-salt and, especially, in the Mero field. The investment in this initiative was led by Petrobrás and its partnerships in the Libra area – Shell, Total, CNPC, and CNOOC.
Although Petrobras focuses its business on exploration and production, the company also has an R&D project aimed at the wind generation area, in partnership with USP. The objective is to develop an advanced conceptual design of two floating systems equipped with one or more wind turbines for operation in intermediate and deep water depths. The units will have the capacity to generate electricity in the range between 5 MW and 12 MW and will be used to power subsea systems or platforms.
In all, oil companies operating in Brazil started more than 600 research and development projects last year. Of the total invested, around 74.5% came from Petrobras coffers, while the remaining 25.5% came from other operators operating in the country, according to data presented by the National Petroleum Agency (ANP).