By Mark Thomas, Senior Editor, E&P We often see companies in the oil and gas industry perhaps a little too keen to pat themselves very publicly on the back when they’ve done what they think is a good job. The global “Law of Sod” often ends up applying in these cases, and within a year or so that company will be wiping egg off its face due to a large slice of bad luck or bad management. Sometimes however, a company is truly justified in these self-congratulatory pats on the back. Petrobras of Brazil is a case in point. The state-owned major confirmed just recently that it had achieved oil production from its operated fields in the presalt areas of the Campos and Santos basins of 300,000 b/d, just seven years after oil was first discovered in the pre-salt layers. On February 20 it reached the 300,000 b/d milestone, with 83% (249,000 b/d) of the total relating to its own share, with the remainder coming from its stakes in partner companies in the various producing presalt areas. It is worth recognizing that the Brazilian operator has achieved this in significantly less time than it took other major offshore producing areas around the world to hit the same figure. For example, it took 17 years after oil was first discovered to reach 300,000 b/d in the US Gulf of Mexico. It took 11 years to achieve the same figure in the conventional Campos basin offshore Brazil, and nine years in the North Sea. The fact that the entire presalt production is coming from fields in ultra-deep waters makes the achievement “even more remarkable,” according to Petrobras itself. In a further impressive statistic, the company managed to hit the 300,000 b/d figure using only 17 production wells, which illustrates just how highly productive the presalt fields are. Of these wells, six are in the Santos Basin and account for 43% of the production (129,000 b/d), while the other 11 are in the Campos basin and account for 57% of production (171,000 b/d). Natural gas production in these wells is 9.8 MMcm/d. With presalt production taking place currently via eight different platforms, four are producing exclusively from the presalt alone: • FPSO Cidade de Angra dos Reis, in operation since October 2010 on the Lula field in the Santos basin; • FPSO Cidade de Anchieta, in operation since September 2012 on the Baleia Azul field in the Campos basin; • FPSO Cidade de São Paulo, in operation since January 2013 on the Sapinhoá field in the Santos basin; and • FPSO Cidade de São Vicente, a temporary unit used for carrying out extended well tests, has been in operation since February 2013 on the Sapinhoá field in the Sapinhoá Norte area. The four other platforms were installed previously in the Campos basin for post-salt oil production, and given their spare capacity, allowed for presalt oil discovery wells to be interconnected. But the fun’s not over yet. In May another platform will come onstream in the Santos basin presalt: the FPSO Cidade de Paraty, with a processing capacity of 120,000 b/d and 5 MMcm/d of gas. This facility, which is in the final assembly phase in the Angra dos Reis yard, will be installed to the northeast of the Lula field. Between 2014 and 2016 another 11 platforms will come onstream for presalt production: 10 in the Santos basin and one in the Campos basin. This will allow oil production operated by Petrobras in the presalt to exceed 1 MMbbl/d of oil in 2017. That is an incredible figure to attain in such a relatively short period of time, and if it is achieved, Petrobras will undoubtedly deserve plenty more pats on the back from the many companies that will make a substantial part of their future profits from helping the Brazilian company on one of the most challenging upstream campaigns ever undertaken by an offshore operator. Credit where credit is due… Contact the author, Mark Thomas, at