GE Supports Petrobras’ Pre-Salt Drilling Program Offshore Brazil

Brazil is one of the world’s largest oil producers, and its national oil company Petrobras has plans for $224 billion in capital expenditures from 2011 to 2015. To support Petrobras’ initiatives for pre-salt drilling, GE’s Power Conversion business announced that it has been selected by Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd, a leading designer and builder of high-performance mobile offshore rigs, to supply the electrical power generation, thruster and drilling drive technology for six new semisubmersible drilling rigs for Brazil.

GE’s electrical systems contribute significantly to the rig’s efficient and effective performance in the challenging deep waters off Brazil’s east coast. In the challenging waters of the Brazilian offshore, reliability is fundamental to operations and was thus a key factor in the decision to choose Power Conversion technology.

Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd. recently announced that it had secured contracts from Sete Brasil Participações S.A. for the design and construction of semisubmersible drilling rigs based on Keppel’s proprietary DSS™ 38E design. With the first rig scheduled to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2015, the deepwater drilling rigs will support the exploration of Brazil’s estimated 50 billion barrels of deep-sea oil and gas reserves.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency’s monthly Oil Market Report forecasts world oil demand reaching 95 million barrels per day in 2016. By 2020, if Brazilian production plans are realized, Brazil could be providing as much as 8 percent of the world’s oil supply.

One of the major benefits of Power Conversion’s diesel electric power and propulsion technology is the flexibility to place components, such as diesel generator sets, switchboards and drives at their most efficient location. Besides an efficient layout, it also is easy to create separated compartments to fulfill safety and redundancy requirements. Combined with redundant power and control cabling to and from all electrical systems, this creates an optimal installation that will meet the most stringent regulatory requirements. It is possible to design a vessel so that flooding or fire in a specific compartment will not lead to a blackout of the total propulsion system or power supply system. Controlled-specified operation can continue to ensure the safety and availability of the vessel.

“The flexibility and configurability of our electric power and propulsion system means that operators can grab all the advantages of multiple levels of redundancy and convert them into improved vessel availability without having to pay an unreasonable penalty in terms of weight, machinery space and capital equipment cost.” said Paul English, marine leader, GE’s Power Conversion business. “Our advanced power generation, motor and drive technologies, like those being used in this project with Keppel FELS, are being harnessed to help improve today’s marine and offshore processes for a cleaner, more productive vessel.”

U.K. Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green, speaking in Rio de Janeiro during a U.K. trade mission to Brazil, reflected on the importance of the deal: “I congratulate GE Energy’s Power Conversion business for securing new business in Brazil’s offshore. Getting more companies exporting is a crucial part of the Government’s plan for growth. “

Significant elements of the equipment delivery for these rigs will be delivered locally through GE’s Brazilian manufacturing units to provide timelier, cost-effective solutions to the expanding Brazilian offshore and shipbuilding industries.

GE’s equipment will be delivered in phases between 2012 and 2016.

Developing the Pre-Salt Area of Brazil

This new project will enable the development of the pre-salt area in Brazil, which is a part of the Petrobras Initiatives. “Pre-salt” refers to a formation of rocks located offshore in a large portion of the Brazilian coast, which have the potential to generate and accumulate oil. It is called pre-salt because the rock has formed under an extensive layer of salt, which in certain areas of the coast can be as much as 2,000 meters thick. The “pre” expression is used because through time, these rocks were deposited before the salt layer. The oil reservoirs themselves can be up to 5,000 meters below sea level.

Extending 500 miles across the Santos, Campos and Espirito Santo basins, Brazil’s pre-salt fields hold an estimated 10 billion to 16 billion barrels. Exploration and recovery of these reserves will require the construction of around 40 new drilling vessels (drill ships and semisubmersibles) between now and 2020.

Press Release , September 30, 2012

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