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Solution to hard-to-reach Brazilian oil reserves

29th March 2012

Floating technology offers hope to offshore hubs located in hostile or formerly inaccessible regions.

Much of Brazil's vast oil and gas reserves are in hard-to-reach places such as the pre-salt basin

Hard-to-reach oil fields in Brazil could be conquered with the help of innovative floating technology devices, according to a new report by business intelligence company GlobalData.

As fast as reserves of easily accessible oil deplete, so do companies’ demand to develop and produce oil and gas from hard-to-reach offshore reserves, such as Brazil’s pre-salt basin, rise.

The demand has sparked a surge in Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) FPSO technologies which allow production to take place in oil and gas fields which are in shallow, deep or even ultra-deep waters.

Adverse weather conditions such as hurricanes and storms normally damage infrastructure and severely affect fixed platforms which normally cannot be moved and are susceptible to extensive damage.

Once production from a well is depleted, the FPSO, however, can be moved to a different location, saving on set-up time and cost as compared to the installation of a fixed platform. Production using FPSOs is therefore a more economical alternative to production through fixed offshore infrastructure.

In addition, disconnectable turret-buoy mooring systems allow FPSOs to move locations to escape destructive weather conditions, enabling oil and gas companies to avoid monetary losses, found GlobalData.

At the end of 2011, there were 139 active FPSOs across the globe in 26 countries for offshore production, with Brazil, Angola and Nigeria as the three largest aggregaters of FPSO-based crude oil and natural gas production capacity worldwide, collectively contributing around 50% of the total global amount, found the report.

Brazilian oil giant, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A., is benefiting from the move to offshore, and now accounts for about 13.5% of the total production capacity of FPSOs globally. Currently, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. has 12 active FPSOs, all of which are located domestically.

The company plans to add another 12 FPSOs by 2015, leading Brazil to boast the highest planned production capacity expansion of any country in the world.

By 2014, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A.’s FPSO-based production capacity is expected to increase by 495.61m barrels of oil equivalient (MMboe) of fossil fuels to reach a capacity of 1,635.14 MMbbl of crude oil and 1,231.35bn cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas.

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