TOGY talks to
Brazilian exec on technological innovations in oil and gasOctober 29, 2018
Gilberto Cardarelli, executive director of Brasco Logística Offshore, talks to TOGY about technological innovation, the need for more R&D in Brazil, the outlook for business coming from recent movements in the offshore E&P sector and the need for proper training and skills development. Founded in 2000, offshore logistics company Brasco is part of the Wilson Sons Group.
• On market outlook: “We foresee a strong investment plan for the coming years. We expect the shy activity in 2018 to convert into a robust year of drilling operations in 2019 and beyond.”
• On being on the right track: “Brazilian regulatory agencies still have a lot to do to provide a reliable environment for E&P investment, and it seems as though they are on the right path. The huge potential this country has for oil business, from giant fields to marginal fields, is a matter of perception. There are promising markets for every sector. All we need is rational rules to make it happen, and the private sector is eager for that.”
• On areas to improve: “The government also needs to focus on R&D and innovation. Strong tax incentives must be granted to companies with technological capabilities. Brazil is very dependent on research and technology.”
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How committed is Brasco to implementing new technologies?
We continue to invest in technology. As an example, we have a system already running to reduce worker exposure to risks related to high pressure services. This consists of an automated hydro-blasting system developed for pipe-cleaning services. We also developed an automated tank-cleaning system that reduces exposure in confined spaces and saves substantial amounts of water in the process. Another smart device developed for forklift operation is a pipe stabiliser system that prevent pipes from falling during transportation.
We also developed in-company a system called OLS [Offshore Logistics System], which keeps full control of the whole inventory of materials and parts of our clients. The system also provides a dashboard for online control of all operations in progress at our base, such as materials delivered from suppliers, materials loading and unloading on boats, truck scheduling, operational efficiency, area occupation, HSE statistics, etc. This dashboard also provides an online screen of berths and vessel decks, and can be installed in our clients’ offices anywhere in the world.
Over the years, we have also developed specific expertise to operate temporary bases in remote areas for exploratory campaigns, and have done it efficiently in Belém in Pará state, São Luís in Maranhão, Fortaleza in Ceará, and Salvador and Vitória in the state of Bahia. Very recently, we present a solution for Total’s campaign in Foz do Amazonas, but project didn’t take off due to constraints regarding environmental permission for drilling.
How significant is the expectation for an uptick in pre-salt activities?
From the time the oil companies completed acquisitions of the pre-salt unitisation areas offered in the second and third pre-salt bid rounds, such as Carcará, Gato do Mato, Sapinhoá and others, the IOCs and Petrobras could finally resume plans to pursue their remaining exploratory and development campaigns.
Based on that, we foresee a strong investment plan for the coming years. We expect the shy activity in 2018 to convert into a robust year of drilling operations in 2019 and beyond.
Brasco is ready for that. For pre-salt fields, we have a strategic position to support offshore activities such as drilling operations and production units. The real movement will start in 2019 and will hopefully continue for long time.
How has E&P investment changed over the past couple of years?
The government is trying to create a favourable environment to allow Petrobras to move ahead with its divestment plan, which will attract companies to invest in fields with declining production. A good example is the Roncador field, where new technologies from Equinor will be considered for implementing oil production. Certainly, we will soon see not only Roncador coming back to higher production, but many others old fields replicating this solution.
Brazilian regulatory agencies still have a lot to do to provide a reliable environment for E&P investment, and it seems as though they are on the right path. The huge potential this country has for oil business, from giant fields to marginal fields, is a matter of perception. There are promising markets for every sector. All we need is rational rules to make it happen, and the private sector is eager for that.
How competitive is the Brazilian offshore services sector?
A lot of infrastructure investment was made to attend to the offshore sector, and what we see now is a complete lack of demand and many greenfield projects that didn’t take off. For example, we have our brand new offshore base in Rio de Janeiro with only 10% of its operational capacity in use. There will be opportunities from Total and Shell’s tender bids for the Lapa and Gato do Mato fields. We are struggling to win those contracts.
In my opinion, there is no room for more investment. The market has to fulfil what is available and only after that may we consider potential growth.
Anyway, the priority for oil companies is the geographic positions of the offshore bases, which must be located as close as possible to their blocks and fields. Brasco’s bases are in a good position.
What infrastructure bottlenecks or hurdles should be addressed to boost activity?
The main bottleneck today is environmental regulation. The ANP made the right decision by no longer including the exploratory blocks with questionable environmental licences in the concession bids. Nevertheless, there are many blocks waiting for licensing.
Another issue is local content gaps in some disciplines. The government also needs to focus on R&D and innovation. Strong tax incentives must be granted to companies with technological capabilities. Brazil is very dependent on research and technology.
Has a good balance been achieved in local content requirements?
The balance is positive. The biggest discussion regarded the construction of FPSO hulls, but a good balance was achieved in other sectors of the industry. A lot of progress was made in the past 12 months and the ANP is about to define a formula to reach a fair balance to protect the local market, though not excessively.
Are training programmes and technical schools in Brazil adequate to provide the skills the market requires?
Much more investment is required in R&D. There has been a drastic reduction in this sector due to the downturn of the oil industry. IOCs and services companies have built fantastic technological research centres in Brazil, and now it’s painful to see all of them closed for lack of incentives. It’s urgent to reactivate these centres and remobilise the talented people that are sitting at home.
As a Wilson Sons Group company, we have many training centres to maintain the qualification levels of our employees. It is a priority for us to develop the skills of our team and the integration of new employees.
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