Brazil’s Petrobras makes ‘high-quality’ subsalt oil find at Buzios Field

Brazilian state-led oil company Petrobras made a “high-quality” oil discovery in an exploration well drilled at the Buzios Field in the country’s massive subsalt frontier, the company said Dec. 22.

“The discovery reinforces the subsalt potential of the Buzios Field,” Petrobras said in a statement.

The latest crude oil discovery at Buzios underscored the growing importance of what many industry officials consider Brazil’s biggest offshore deposit.

Development of Buzios was the linchpin of Petrobras’ 2021-25 investment plan, which included plans to install four new floating production, storage and offloading vessels, or FPSOs, and drill about 100 wells at Buzios in the $55 billion spending program.

The find was made in the 9-BUZ-48D-RJS well drilled in 1,850 meters nearly 200 kilometers off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state, Petrobras said.

Well-formation tests made at a depth of 5,540 meters confirmed the presence of high-quality oil, Petrobras said. The discovery was made in the extreme northwest section of the Buzios ring fence area.

Petrobras also made a similar discovery in the southeast portion of the Buzios area in May, when the 9-BUZ-39DA-RJS well hit a 208-meter thick column of oil, the company said May 11.

That well was drilled in water 2,108 meters deep, with the well plumbing to a total depth of about 5,400 meters, according to the company.

Buzios is the latest subsalt field to enter full development after the Tupi and Sapinhoa fields, which are Brazil’s first- and third-biggest oil and natural gas producers by volume.

Buzios, which pumped first oil in April 2018, is the country’s second-biggest producer, pumping 564,474 b/d and 22.7 million cu m/d in October, according to the latest data available from the National Petroleum Agency, or ANP.

In addition to hefty crude and gas volumes, Buzios is also the most-productive subsalt field.

A single well at Buzios set the record for oil and gas output at nearly 69,600 b/d of oil equivalent in October, according to Petrobras. Brazil’s top 11 wells in terms of oil output are all located at Buzios, according to the ANP.

Buzios currently features four FPSOs, with most of the vessels operating above installed capacity thanks to efficiency improvements made during commissioning of the FPSOs gas-treatment facilities in 2019, according to company officials.

Each of the FPSOs has installed capacity to produce at least 150,000 b/d and process 6 million cu m/d, according to Petrobras.

Petrobras plans to install a fifth FPSO at the field in 2022, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic not expected to cause any relevant delays, according to the company.

A sixth FPSO was planned for 2024, followed by two additional FPSOs in 2025, according to the latest investment plan.

Buzios was also the site of innovations to dramatically reduce subsalt drilling times, with Petrobras dropping the number of days required to drill a production well at the field by nearly half over the past three years.

Petrobras completed a production well in 91 days in 2020, compared with 171 days in 2017, according to the company.

Eventually, Petrobras wants to cut the time between when an oil discovery is made until it enters production to about 1,000 days, down from the industry standard of about 3,000-plus days.

Credit: Platt

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