FPSO Guanabara; Source: MODEC

11 more FPSOs in Brazil’s pre-salt layer on Petrobras’ five-year agenda

Brazilian state-owned oil and gas giant Petrobras has unveiled plans to put 11 additional FPSO units into operation in the pre-salt layer offshore Brazil by 2027, which are anticipated to boost production, enabling it to reach 2.4 million boe.

FPSO Guanabara; Source: MODEC

Based on Petrobras’ Strategic Plan for the period from 2023 to 2027, $64 billion has been earmarked for investments in exploration and production activities while a portion of 67 per cent of these resources will be allocated to investments in the pre-salt layer. 

With the new projects added to the units already in operation, the firm expects to produce a total of 3.1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) in 2027, with 2.4 million boed in the pre-salt layer, which will represent 78 per cent of total production. In the case of operated production – Petrobras and partners – the projections indicate that the volume produced in the pre-salt layer will reach 3.6 million boe in 2027.

According to the Brazilian giant, the pre-salt will complete 15 years of production in September with more growth on the horizon over the coming years. In line with this, Petrobras plans to install 11 new FPSOs to work in that layer by 2027.

Joelson Mendes, Petrobras’ Director of Exploration and Production, commented: “The 15 years of pre-salt production are the best proof of a Brazil that works. It is proof of the persistence and technical capacity of men and women who fought and did not give up in the face of the complex challenges they encountered. 

“Our technical staff contributed to the development of unprecedented technologies to make pre-salt production feasible, hand in hand with our partners, boosting the development of an entire market of highly specialised suppliers. These are professionals who not only broke new ground, hitherto unexplored, but also turned it into one of the most important production hubs in the world. 

“And all this success points to a promising future: we are going to put 11 FPSOs into operation in the pre-salt layer over the next five years that will guarantee the sustainability of our production – which proves the importance and magnitude of our performance in the pre-salt layer.”

Furthermore, the company already put into production two new pre-salt systems – P-71 in the Itapu field and FPSO Almirante Barroso in the Búzios field – since December 2022. The third unit, FPSO Sepetiba, is expected to start operating in the Mero field by the end of this year. 

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Regarding the Búzios field, it reached an accumulated production of 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in June, just five years after it started operating while the Marlim field in the Campos Basin took 11 years to reach the level of 1 billion boe and the Tupi field, in the pre-salt layer, nine years.

Currently, the Búzios field operates with five FPSOs: P-74, P-75, P-76, P-77, and Almirante Barroso. Out of the eleven new FPSOs scheduled for pre-salt by 2027, six are destined for Búzios. These are the FPSO Almirante Tamandaré (scheduled for 2024); P-78 and P-79 (both for 2025); P-80 and P-82 (2026), in addition to the P-83 (2027).

Moreover, Mero is another large pre-salt field, which is located in the Libra block in the Santos Basin. Currently, the field is home to the FPSO Pioneiro de Libra, with the capacity to produce up to 50,000 bpd, which operates the Early Production System (SPA 2), and the FPSO Guanabara, with the capacity to produce up to 180,000 bpd. It already reached its production peak of 179,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) in February 2023, about eight months after the first oil. 

During the second half of 2023, Petrobras expects to install the FPSO Sepetiba at the Mero field, with the capacity to produce up to 180,000 bpd. By 2025, the company will put another two units into operation on the field, totalling four systems. Mero is the third largest field in Brazil, after Tupi and Búzios, also located in the Santos Basin pre-salt.

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Aside from the Santos Basin, the pre-salt layer continues to expand in the Campos Basin. The pre-salt production started in the Jubarte field in the Campos Basin 15 years ago. The field’s production will be boosted with the FPSO Maria Quitéria in 2025, with the capacity to produce up to 100,000 bdp.

Petrobras is committed to revitalising its mature assets in the Campos Basin, expanding production capacity with the implementation of new systems. In line with this, the Albacora field, which completed 35 years of operation last year, will receive in 2027 the new FPSO of the Albacora Revitalisation project, with a capacity to produce up to 120,000 bpd – operating both in the post-salt and pre-salt fields.

“The results achieved in the pre-salt layer – and the promising prospects for the future – are largely due to working in partnership with companies recognised for their technical excellence: Shell, TotalEnergies, Petrogal, Repsol Sinopec, CNOOC, CNODC, Petronas, QatarEnergy and PPSA,” explained the Brazilian giant.

A lot of pressure is being placed on the oil and gas industry’s shoulders, as the world ups its decarbonisation ante in a bid to accelerate the energy transition to net-zero. As a result, fossil energy players are diversifying their portfolios to meet the demand for low-carbon and renewable energy.

To this end, Petrobras recently signed multiple deals with Chinese companies regarding different opportunities in the energy sector, such as oil and gas exploration and production, refining, petrochemical industry, energy transition projects, renewable energy generation, the production of sustainable hydrogen and ammonia, and carbon capture segments.