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The success of the Petrobras Program for Revitalizing Oilfields with a High Degree of Exploitation, RECAGE, has enabled the company to intensify its activities in the drilling of onshore wells in Brazil and work toward achieving an audacious target. The idea is to increase the onshore production of oil by about 30% by 2010, complete the drilling of approximately 900 onshore wells per year, leverage the production of mature fields and, by increasing the exploratory work in land-based sedimentary basins, benefit the economy of various Brazilian states through the investments made. The General Onshore Drilling Department, specially created within the company Exploration and Production area for the Northern and Northeastern regions, will coordinate the work carried out in such a way as to guarantee the fulfillment of the target in accordance with the best practices in operational drilling and in Health, Safety, and the Environment.

Drilling rig in Macau, Rio Grande do Norte

“We will increase our onshore production, which is now about 230,000 barrels of oil per day, equal to approximately 13% of domestic production, by 30%. The number of onshore wells drilled per annum will more than double, increasing from 430 to around 900. Old wells will also start to be reopened, restored, and re-completed. In order to achieve the projected results, the number of onshore drilling rigs will in turn be increased 100%, to about 50,” explains Guilherme Estrella, the Petrobras director of Exploration and Production.

Petrobras is going to increase the national content in machinery and equipment

The success of the project is assured by means of optimized cost control, bulk buying, increasing the national content of machinery and equipment, and improvements in operational efficiency and contract management, with emphasis on productivity and profitability.

“An integrated structure, focused on wells situated in those states where the Petrobras onshore fields are located – Amazonas, Céara, Rio Grande do Norte, Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia, and Espirito Santo –, facilitates even more the progress of the project,” emphasizes Estrella. The new management unit, accordingly, is headquartered in Rio Grande do Norte, the state which has most of the Petrobras land-based exploitation in Brazil.

Land-based production in Brazil has significant advantages. “The investment needed in technology is less. The risks are fewer than those involved in marine operations. Moving equipment on land is easier and quicker than at sea, even taking it from one state to another. Onshore installations are simpler and easier to assemble. In addition, the return on investment is faster and more predictable,” says Estrella.

The North Capixaba Oil Province

There is a lot of work ahead. To carry it out, significant resources are being invested, especially in the Norte Capixaba oil province in Espírito Santo and in the North and Northeastern regions where the revitalization of mature fields is being intensified. More specifically, over two billion reais will be invested up to 2009 in the four principal projects in the Petrobras Exploration and Production area in the North and the Northeast to recuperate mature fields. The projects comprise the development of the complexes at Miranga in Bahia; at Carmopolis in Sergipe; at Canto do Amaro in Rio Grande do Norte, and at Urucu in the state of Amazonas. These projects are very attractive from an economic perspective because of the speed of installation; the predominance of light or paraffin oil in the locations, both with a high market value; and the low risk of investments involved, considering that the work is carried out in areas already geologically surveyed.

Investments in mature fields will contribute to the maintenance of Brazilian self-sufficiency in oil

Irrespective of the peculiarities of each field, one thing is certain with regard to onshore prospecting. The intensification of the Petrobras activities in the area of land-based exploration and production, including the resuming of investment in mature fields, is a further contribution to maintaining Brazil’s self sufficiency in oil and is totally in line with the Petrobras strategy of increasing the Brazilian production of oil and gas. The initiative is, therefore, more than welcome.