Nano technology and laser drilling are some of the technologies in which Petrobras will invest as part of its PROCAP Future Vision Program.
Nanotechnologies are extensively used in a range of projects, from the development of nanostructured materials and nanosensors for system integrity assurance to nanoparticles for improved recovery or to help gather information from the reservoirs, says Orlando Ribeiro, coordinator of The PROCAP Future Vision Program.
Their Deepwater R&D Program carries a lot of potential to effectively and radically change the way we develop and produce offshore fields. The program was established after several large discoveries in 2007 and 2009.
– Those multi-billion, “super-giant” fields located at water depths beyond 2000 meters created a whole new ball game. This led to the formation of a new R&D Program, says Ribeiro.
The new finds have encouraged Petrobras to invest heavily in the development of new technology. Nanotechnology is one of its key investment projects. Among the areas in which Petrobas is currently in the process of introducing nanotechnology is optimized recovery from the reservoirs.
– We expect to improve the performance of chemicals already in use (polymers and surfactants) in order to turn some procedures economically viable. Smart nanomaterials will also be developed to change rock wettability and interfacial tension between oil and water, and to increase the viscosity of the injection fluid. Also, a better understanding of rock-fluid interactions and properties using nanosensors could help to define the optimized recovery strategy, says Ribeiro.
He points out that the development of contrast agents for imaging methods such as seismic and electromagnetic will help to locate the remaining residual oil.
Nanotechnology for size reduction
Another area where Petrobras considers using nanotechnology is in connection with material development. One of the company’s ambitions is the establishment of a carbon nanotechnology centre in Brazil. During its initial phase, the centre will aim to develop high-performance composite and organic coatings with high abrasion resistance, low permeation to gases, anti-fouling characteristics and better mechanical properties. This is material that will be used in risers, pipes and components incorporating nanomaterials, such as bending stiffeners with nano-modified polyurethanes and carbon fibre risers with nanotubes at the resin-fibre interface.
– The main objectives are size reduction, improved mechanical properties and less degradation in severe environments, both for onshore and offshore applications, says Ribeiro.
In addition to nanotechnology, Petrobas is currently looking at laser drilling as an option. Researchers believe that state-of-the-art lasers have the potential to penetrate rock many times faster than conventional drilling technologies.
– The objective of this project is to create a new generation of drilling systems based on high-power lasers. When completed, the product will be a laser drilling system based on a laser bit that will receive energy through fibre optics from a laser source located on the surface. The expected benefit of this technology is to double the penetration rate compared to the performance of conventional bits when used on hard rocks, says Ribeiro, who will expand on several of these projects during this year’s Under Water Technology Conference.