A more realistic, safer and economically efficient industry was among the topics of discussion at the OTC Brasil 2017 Conference.

The event took place Oct. 24-26 in Rio de Janerio, part of a South American region that is gaining attention because of its offshore oil and gas potential. North of Brazil, French Guiana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago are opening new opportunities for the industry and attracting majors that are making huge investments.

The conference happened in Brazil amid three oil auctions, which raised $3 billion in bonus revenue.

During the opening ceremony, Decio Oddone, general director for Brazil oil regulator ANP, emphasized that Brazil will attract roughly $264 billion by 2027, mainly because of its presalt activities.

Considering operators are expected to acquire 30 new oil platforms for the areas recently auctioned, Brazil could become one of the greatest oil-producing countries outside OPEC, according to Oddone.

“Brazil cannot miss this opportunity,” he said. “Brazil must to learn how to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Tackling Challenges

Although Brazil’s presalt was the main topic during the conference, discussions on challenges and opportunities for the oil and gas industry in other places in South America were also highlighted. On the panel “New Developments in Ultra-Deep in South America,” conference speakers debated new ultradeep development and issues related to some of the new projects on the continent.

“We are very excited about our discoveries in Guyana and our acreage acquisitions in Brazil and Suriname,” said Roal Lokken, chief offshore and infrastructure engineer for ExxonMobil.

During his presentation, Lokken talked about Liza’s field activities. Located offshore Guyana, Liza is considered as one of the hottest prospects for the offshore industry. Interest is also picking up given nearby finds in the North Atlantic.

To the executive, current subsea technology can successfully operate to the depth of about 3,000 m (9,843 ft), enabling record-breaking projects in the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil. Thus, he said today’s challenges are essentially economic and no longer purely technical. The first phase of Liza is expected to develop 450 MMbbl of oil by 2020, five years after discovery.

Besides the enthusiasm over Liza, Lokken also mentioned the Payara discoveries made in December 2016, Snoek in March 2017 and Turbot in October 2017 as opportunities to boost technological developments offshore Guyana.

Others speakers on the panel said they believe lower prices will not change in the near future. So companies must find solutions to become more efficient to face the current price situation.

Russell McBeth, TechnipFMC FPSO account manager, said recent mergers between leading subsea hardware and subsea, umbilicals, risers and flowlines companies have created opportunities to supply lower cost solutions with improved interfaces and better scheduling certainty.

For SBM Offshore FPSO account director Carlos Mastrangelo, the current situation has some positive aspects.

“We have all seen lots of cycles before and treating this one with a sense of forever may actually help us do what needs to be done,” he said.

Stronger Alliances

On the panel “New Alliances in the Subsea Market—What Operators Can Expect?,” the speakers raised questions about how the subsea market can work together in terms of achieving success in global offshore E&P operations.

Aker Solutions CEO Luis Araujo, one of the speakers, spoke about the importance of digitalization to improve safety in offshore activities. “Digitalization harnesses the power of data and technology to transform life-of-field development from subsea to surface,” he said.

Araujo mentioned collaboration between ABB and MAN Diesel & Turbo on technology development in subsea power and automation system expertise as an example.

According to Araujo, initial focus areas are to developing better subsea compression systems. Both companies also worked on delivery of the world’s first subsea compression system for the Statoil-operated Åsgard Field offshore Norway. The collaboration will target opportunities worldwide.

Petrobras executive manager for subsea systems Cristina Pinho, the panel’s keynote speaker, also stressed the importance of a good partnership between operators and suppliers.

According to Pinho, Petrobras plans to carry out early engagement and work closely with main contractors from the start of a project’s conceptual phase to production, especially in the current low oil price environment.

She said that the Brazilian state-owned oil company works to achieve cost reductions of up to $5.35 billion in subsea systems to be installed by 2026 in the Santos and Campos basins.

“During Phase 1 of our subsea cost reduction program from 2014 to 2015, we were able to save about $518 million from a total of 21 initiatives designed to cut unit costs and keep the availability of critical items,” the manager said.

Pinho added that she is engaged in talks with Petrobras’ suppliers. “Some initiatives include recent modifications we did on the subsea layout of some fields, like having the production platform closer to the wells,” Pinho said.

The Petrobras manager also said that the next steps will probably include an evaluation of subsea architecture such as tiebacks and trunklines, the promotions of competitiveness between rigid and flexible risers, the development of new technologies, including electrical distribution and subsea processing, and a multidisciplinary and integrated approach in conceptual design developments.

She also mentioned the increase in productiveness of the company’s flexible pipelaying support vessel fleet throughout the years as another cost reduction initiative.

—Brunno Braga