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UpstreamOnline: Shell BS-4 test prompts rethink

By Gareth Chetwynd

Shell, Petrobras and Chevron are rethinking their development plans for heavy oil fields in Santos basin Block BS-4 after a horizontal appraisal well weakened the case for a tension leg platform or spar design and brought the FPSO option back into the fold.

“The well was designed to answer questions about the long-term development scenario, and we learned a lot from it, but it has really opened up the issues,” Shell Brazil vice president John Haney told UpstreamOnline on the sidelines of the Brasil Offshore conference in Macae.

Shell has drilled three wells on the BS-4 ring-fence area, and carried out tests on one vertical well before performing the horizontal test toward the end of 2006 using the Transocean drillship Deepwater Navigator.

Prior to this, Shell had outlined plans develop the field with TLP or spar technology using dry completion, and the horizontal probe was designed to show how wells would be built and completed in the shallow reservoir conditions.

Rather than firm up the case for dry completion, the results have revived the possibility of using a floating production, storage and offloading system and subsea completion, Haney acknowledged.

He said Shell would submit a development plan for BS-4 to Brazilian regulator ANP by the end of this month.

The company has said the two discoveries on the block point to oil in place estimated at 1.6 billion barrels, but the crude is sour, located in water depths of between 1500 and 1800 metres, and graded at between 14 and 15 degrees-API.

First oil has been pencilled for 2011. 

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