PETROBRAS, the Brazilian State-owned oil Company, celebrated its fortieth anniversary as one of the leading companies in the world's oil patch. In December 1993, Petroleum Intelligence Weekly tagged Petrobras as the world's fastest - growing oil company over the past few years (Ref 1). This expansion is directly linked to the Company's cutting edge in deepwater exploration and production technology.

Petrobras has been making important oil strikes in waters deeper than 400 meters in the past few years. This exploratory success is not only mainly reflected by the Albacora (1984) and Marlim (1985) giant fields but also the discoveries of other deepwater fields in the Campos Basin.

The reserves in those fields, located in waters of 400 to 1,000 meters (classified as deep) and those in depths over 1,000 meters (classified as ultra-deep), account for 60% of oil and gas equivalent total reserves in Brazil. The importance of deepwater technology is also stressed by the fact that over 60% of the potential oil discoveries (future new discoveries) will be in deep and ultra - deep waters. These figures demonstrate that the production of its deepwater fields is a vital issue for Brazil.

In order to face technological challenge of producing oil in deep waters, PETROBRAS established a special program named PROCAP, aiming at maximizing the technological capability of the Company on deepwater oil exploitation between 1986 and 1991.

The excellent results obtained by that program, which ensured technological capability in deepwater, encouraged PETROBRAS to create a new one called PRO CAP - 2000 (Technological Innovation Program on Deepwater Exploitation Systems), far more daring than the previous one, that intends to change the current way of producing oil in such water depths.

This paper presents the driving forces to go beyond 1,000 meters water depth, a review of the first PRO CAP and its main results achieved, besides a detailed description of the PROCAP - 2000, including the goals, the strategies, the systemic projects considered essential to boost the development of deep and ultra deepwater oil and gas production in Brazil, in addition to some partial results reached so far.


Campos Basin, the main petroleum province in Brazil, is located offshore Rio de Janeiro State, on the southeast region of the country. Its area covers 100 sq. km. ranging from 50 m to 3,400 meters water depth (fig. 1).

The first production system installed in this basin began its production in 1977. Today, eighteen years later, the overall production system comprising 15 fixed platforms and 13 floating systems distributed among 33 oil fields which account for the production of 550,000 bpd (which stand for 69% of the domestic production) and 9,5 million daily cubic meters of gas (which represent 45% of Brazilian gas production). The accumulated production has far overcome the one billion barrels of oil milestone. This production is handled and exported to shore through over 2,500 km of oil and gas pipeline networks.

Petrobras's experience of 18 years using floating production systems (FPS), shown on table 1, has allowed the evolution of this production system originally conceived as a temporary solution for anticipating production of offshore fields to become a highly recommended option to the production of marginal and deepwater fields.

With respect to Subsea Trees, Petrobras has up to now 223 already installed and 166 planned to be installed between 96/97. This figures represent around 30% of the total subsea completion all over the world (table 2).

Figure 2 shows the successive water depth world records that have been established by Petrobras in subsea completion since 1979, culminating with the MRL-04 well, which is the current world record located at the remarkable water depth of 1,027 meters.

The Importance of Deepwater Production to Brazil

At the end of December 1994, the total Brazilian reserves of oil and gas equivalent came up to 10.3 billion barrels. From that total, the oil reserves located onshore represent 18%; the ones located in shallow waters, below 400 m, account for 22% and the ones in deep water, between 400 and 1000 m, for 37%.

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