Illustration; Source: Equinor

Equinor hands over development plans for $9 billion natural gas project off Brazil

Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor has submitted the declarations of commerciality and plans of development for two natural gas fields in the BM-C-33 concession in Brazil’s Campos Basin to Agência Nacional de Petróleo, Gás Natural e Biocombustíveis (ANP). This is expected to be the country’s first project to treat the gas offshore and be connected to the national grid without further onshore processing.

Illustration; Source: Equinor

The BM-C-33 concession contains natural gas and oil/condensate recoverable volumes of above one billion barrels of oil equivalent. The suggested names for the two fields – Raia Manta and Raia Pintada -are expected to be confirmed by the regulator.

Trond Bokn, senior vice president for Project development, commented: “The fields are a strategic fit for Equinor’s ambitions in a country where we have a solid history and an intention to further strengthen our presence. Together with our partners, we will employ additional expertise to ensure safe and efficient execution of these developments.”

Equinor further elaborates that the selected development concept comprises one floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel capable of processing gas and oil/condensate to meet sales specifications without further onshore processing. The FPSO will have a production capacity of 16 million cubic meters of gas per day with expected average exports of 14 million cubic meters of gas per day.

Furthermore, the Norwegian giant claims that Raia Manta and Raia Pintada are significant natural gas fields that will play “a key role” in the ongoing advancement of the Brazilian gas market. The fields’ development and operation stages have the potential to generate up to 50,000 local jobs during its full life cycle, through various contracts in the supply chain. Equinor underlines that the total investment in this project is about $9 billion.

Location of Raia Manta and Raia Pintada fields in the area of BM-C-33; Source: Equinor
Location of Raia Manta and Raia Pintada fields in the area of BM-C-33; Source: Equinor

Veronica Coelho, Equinor’s Country Manager in Brazil, remarked: “The fields have the potential to meet 15% of the total Brazilian gas demand when in production. This will contribute to Brazil’s energy security and economic development, enabling significant new job opportunities at local level.”

According to Equinor, the sales gas is planned to be exported through a 200-kilometer offshore gas pipeline from the FPSO to Cabiúnas, in the city of Macaé, in the state of Rio de Janeiro while liquids are planned to be offloaded by shuttle tankers. The start-up of the project is expected in 2028.

Moreover, the company expects a lifetime average CO2 intensity for the fields to be below 6 kilograms per barrel of oil equivalent. This low-carbon intensity will be enabled through combined cycle gas turbines on the FPSO, which combines a gas turbine with a steam turbine to take advantage of the excess heat that would otherwise be lost.

The BM-C-33 block, located in water depths of up to 2,900 meters, was discovered by Repsol Sinopec in 2010 and Equinor took over the operatorship in 2016. The partners approved the development concept for BM-C-33 in March 2021. Equinor as the operator holds a 35% stake in this block while Repsol Sinopec Brasil and Petrobras hold 35 and 30% interest, respectively.

This announcement comes only months after Baker Hughes was picked to work on the FPSO, which will be deployed at a cluster consisting of the Pao de AcucarSeat, and Gavea fields in the BM-C-33 block of the Campos Basin offshore Brazil, thanks to a deal awarded to MODEC in May 2023. Equinor made the final investment decision to develop the project on 8 May 2023.

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In addition, the Norwegian player also handed out a contract for subsea umbilicals, risers, and flowlines (SURF) to TechnipFMC.