Old assets, new challenges


Written by:

Ensuring lifetime extension of old facilities in a safe manner is becoming a concern to the Brazilian oil and gas industry, and challenges related to this concern were discussed during a seminar in Rio de Janeiro on October 20, 2016.

As offshore assets on the Brazilian shelf are getting close to the end of their service life, ensuring lifetime extension of old installations in a safe and environmental friendly manner is becoming increasingly important to the industry. Safety, integrity and environmental mattersare all part of these concerns, and decision makers need to figure out if life extension of an asset is feasible – or if it is necessary to start the demobilization, removal and discharge of the asset.

As the oil price is on a low level, discussions on life time extension and decommissioning is higher on the agenda than ever before. Experiences from Norway could serve as a reference to Brazilian counterparts, or as lessons learned, and Brazil´s national petroleum agency, ANP, is looking into what Norwegian authorities did when lifetime extension and decommissioning became a subject that needed address 10-15 years ago.

The seminar took place on October 20, 2016 and was organized by Intsok in cooperation with Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro, with the support of DNV GL and ANP.

Old installations
ANP’s new regulations on well and drilling and on subsea and pipeline integrity are very relevant for the challenges the industry is facing, and technical advisor Caroline Morais presented ANP´s views on life extension to the seminar. She also outlined the regulations in place, the «SGSO” for platforms and drillshipsand the «SGSS” for subsea systems.

«There are very old installations in operation in Brazil and poor integrity management», Ms. Morais said.

According to figures she presented, more than 100 of the 156 production platforms in Brazil came into operation in the 1970s and 1980s. 49 platforms in the Campos Basin are more than 25 years old.

«The question is when to start demobilization and when to go for life extension of an asset, and life extension of a field does not mean life extension for a platform. ANP is conducting safety audits, reviewing literature and meeting with the industry. We are also doing a benchmark and discussing experiences from Norway, United Kingdom and Australia, countries that are more developed in life extension processes», Ms. Morais said.

She also talked about the lifetime of pipelines and of wells, and ANP is especially concerned with wells concluded before 1990. There are 268 such wells in the Campos Basin still in operation.

When to start decommissioning and when to continue, is not only a financial question, she concluded.

Heavy presence
Several Petrobras managers and engineers were present at the seminar, demonstrating that the topic of the seminar is in fact a concern to the Brazilian oil company.

Anderson Christino da Silva presented the management of offshore structures of his company.

«The discussion of life extension versus decommissioning of offshore structures is something recent. Petrobras have 136 platforms in operation all over the coast. We believe integrated information throughout the lifecycle of the offshore structure, is the key. In a life extension process, we need information to take a proper decision. The availability of information gives the operator a higher predictability of operational issues», he said, and explained how Petrobras gathers information in databases.

Julio Leite talked about well integrity and reliability.

«The low oil price scenario impacts the decision making process and wether we chose to abandon a project or make a work-over on a well. A work-over on a well always implies higher risk, and I would like to discuss with you how we can balance optimizing well construction and keep the work-overs at a cost level we can live with, of course always without compromising safety. How can we increase the reliability of the systems?»

Alessandro Barreto de França talked about lifetime extension of fields in operation, in subsea systems and pipelines. Petrobras has more than 15.000 kilometers of pipelines and umbilicals installed.

«We want to keep old assets operations safe and ensure operations’ efficiency. There are always demands to be met, within monitoring and inspection techniques, and we are always pursuing improvements. Simple and cost effective solutions are always required, and a collaborative environment between the operator and the suppliers is a key factor to meet the demands. This is why we are here today. This is important to Petrobras.»

Sharing Norwegian experiences
INTSOK partners presented technologies and innovative solutions supporting operational activities where the life time of assets is being considered as a strategic and risk management demand. They shared their experiences ensuring life time extension divided in 3 topics: FPSO / Platforms, Subsea Installations / Pipelines and Integrated Solutions.

10 Norwegian companies were present, and coatings solutions for corrosion protection, structures fatigue and stress monitoring, lightweight aluminum gangways and other products, metocean and forecast services, learnings on FPSO conversion, Subsea systems, flexible risers and pipeline integrity and life extension ,were the technologies and solutions presented.

Click here to see the complete list of speakers and participants.

Chairs of the event was INTSOK Country Manager Adhemar Freire and INTSOK Regional Director Gulbrand Wangen.

The welcoming remarks were given by Consul General Sissel Hodne Steen:

«This seminar is timely in many aspects, and the fact that we are so many people present here today, demonstrates that. Both Norway and Brazil have offshore fields getting old, but the assets in Norway are on a more advanced level of the aging process. The offshore industry in Brazil is now entering a phase where lifetime extension of fields will become more important, and the application of new technologies may help the oil companies to keep the fields producing, without compromising the operational safety, the integrity of the assets and of our environment. The purpose of this seminar is to share some of these technologies, and Norway may have something to contribute with, both ideas and experiences», she said.

By Runa Hestmann, NBCC journalist