Pre-Salt

The discoveries made in the pre-salt are among the world’s most important in the past decade. The pre-salt province comprises large accumulations of excellent quality, high commercial value light oil. A reality that puts us in a strategic position to meet the great global demand for energy.

Daily oil output at the pre-salt progressed from the average of approximately 41,000 barrels per day, in 2010, to 1 million barrels per day in mid-2016. A nearly 24-fold increase.

To discover these reserves and operate efficiently in deep waters, we have developed our own technology and work in collaboration with suppliers, universities, and research centers. We hire drilling rigs, production platforms, ships, and submarines, with features that set the entire energy industry chain into motion.

Selo_otc_eng_hor.jpgFor the pioneering technologies we developed with partners and suppliers, we were granted in 2015, for the third time, the OTC Distinguished Achievement Award for Companies, Organizations, and Institutions – the highest technology recognition an oil company can get as an offshore operator.

Important achievements

The 1-million-barrel-of-oil-per-day mark in the pre-salt was achieved less than ten years after the first discovery in this geological layer, and only two years after we reached 500,000 barrels per day there, in 2014.

A comparison with our own production history shows the dimensions of this result: It took 45 years from its creation for our company to reach the production of the first million barrels of oil, in 1998.

This accelerated growth in production proves the high productivity of the wells in operation in the pre-salt, and represents a significant milestone in the oil industry, especially because the fields are located in deep and ultradeep waters.

A fact that shows, comparatively, the high productivity of the pre-salt is that in 1984, the company needed 4,108 producing wells to reach the 500-thousand-barrel-per-day milestone. In the pre-salt, we reached double that output volume with the contribution of only 52 wells.

The significant volume produced per well in the Santos Basin pre-salt, around 25,000 barrels of oil per day, is far above the industry’s average. Of the ten highest-producing wells in Brazil, nine are located in this area. The most productive is in the Lula field, with an average daily flow of 36,000 barrels of oil per day.

We have drilled wells in the pre-salt in increasingly less time, always working pursuant to the best operational safety practices in the world. The average time to build an offshore well in the Santos Basin pre-salt cluster used to be approximately 310 days until 2010. With the progress made in knowledge about the geology there, with the introduction of advanced technologies, and with increasing project efficiency, in 2015 that time had dropped to 128 days; and, in the first five months of 2016, to 89 days. A 71 percent reduction.

Because of the knowledge accumulated in our operations and due to technological innovation, the average cost to lift pre-salt oil has dropped gradually over the past few years. From $9.1 per barrel of oil equivalent (oil + gas), in 2014, to $8.3, in 2015, and less than $8 per barrel in the first quarter of 2016.

Improvement of the goods and services industry 

The business generated by the pre-salt is a vector that drives improvement in the goods and services chain, bringing technologies, knowledge, professional training, and opportunities to the industry. By and large, technological challenges in the oil industry are overcome by means of the combination of efforts between operator and supplier technical teams, often supported by university and technology center scholars and researchers. The development of the pre-salt led major suppliers to install research centers in Brazil and induced a national content policy that favors competitiveness associated with opportunities for development to be generated by the overcoming of the challenges we face. In addition, it may leverage great progress in knowledge. It is important to stress that Petrobras will continue considering the competitive capacity of the domestic goods and service industry in its projects.

 

Understand how the pre-salt was formed

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The Pre-salt is a sequence of sedimentary rocks formed more than 100 million years ago in the geographic space created by the separation of the ancient Continent of Gondwana. More specifically, it was formed by the separation of the current American and African continents, a process that started about 150 million years ago. Initially, great depressions were formed between the two continents, giving rise to large lakes. Over millions of years, the rocks that would give rise to the pre-salt region's oil were deposited there. Since all the rivers on the continents that separated flew to the lower regions, large amounts of organic matter were deposited there.

As the continents strayed, the organic materials accumulating in the new space were being covered by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, which was then forming. That was when the layer of salt that currently reaches 2000 meters in thickness started being formed. This layer was deposited on the accumulated organic matter, holding it there for millions of years until thermochemical processes turned it into hydrocarbons (oil and gas).

In the current Brazilian exploratory context, the possibility of the occurrence of the set of rocks with potential to generate and accumulate oil in the pre-salt layer is in the province called the pre-salt, an area measuring approximately 800 km in length and 200 km in width, off the coast between the states of Santa Catarina and Espírito Santo.

The province's deposits are located about 300 km off the coast of the Southeast region, which concentrates 58.2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (sum of all good and service production in Brazil). The total area of the pre-salt province (149,000 square kilometers) corresponds to almost three and a half times the state of Rio de Janeiro.