Thursday, 13 January 2011

Brazil: Brave new technological world

Petrobras plans to exploit pre-salt deposits with very advanced submarine technology. The 300–400 km distance of the deposits from the coast makes traditional large drilling platforms non-viable, and the company therefore proposes to replace them gradually with submerged stations, an Atlantis of the future, inhabited by the machinery now found aboard the offshore platforms, only smaller.

The plan is to have these submarine stations in place within 10 years, but a submarine plant to separate oil from water will be installed in the first quarter of 2011 at the Marlim field, in the Campos basin. This will be an intermediate phase for the installation of oil-processing plants at the bottom of the sea.

According to the financial director of Petrobras, Almir Barbassa, these submarine operations will significantly reduce the cost of pre-salt exploitation.

A cluster of advanced technologies for the petroleum industry, and specifically for pre-salt, is being developed in Rio de Janeiro. A number of foreign firms such as Baker Hughes, General Electric, and Schlumberger and Brazilian firms such as Usiminas, Unespetro, and Petrobras' own CENPES research centre are in the process of establishing research labs in the city to respond to the new technological challenges of pre-salt.

More generally, beyond the petroleum sector, Brazil is bracing itself to respond to the challenges of intellectual property. The number of patents reviewed by Institut national de la propriété industrielle (INPI), the federal agency responsible, increased from 9,643 in 2005 to 16,878 in 2009, a variation of 75 per cent.

For more news and expert analysis about Brazil, please see Brazil Focus.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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