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Brazil's Petrobras registers 1.4% drop in Nov domestic crude oil output

Rio de Janeiro — Brazilian state-led oil company Petrobras registered a 1.4% month-on-month slide in domestic crude oil output in November as ongoing maintenance work at offshore floating production units offset fresh flows from new wells.

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Petrobras pumped an average of 2.012 million b/d from Brazilian fields in November, down from 2.041 million b/d in October, the company said in a filing with local stock regulators submitted after markets closed late Thursday. November's domestic oil output was also down 5.6% from 2.131 million b/d in November 2017.

The latest production downturn puts Petrobras on pace to fall short of its annual production target of 2.1 million b/d, which would be the first missed output goal in three years. Petrobras' average output in the first 11 months of the year was 2.028 million b/d.

Petrobras produced 2.154 million b/d in 2017, with output expected to drop in 2018 because of sales of stakes in several mature and subsalt fields.

The biggest drag on Petrobras' output in 2018, however, has been maintenance work at floating production, storage and offloading vessels at several of the largest subsalt oil and natural gas producers.

In November, Petrobras briefly shuttered the FPSO Cidade de Ilhabela at the Sapinhoa field in the Santos Basin subsalt zone for an overhaul, the company said. Sapinhoa is Brazil's second-largest oil and gas producer.

Petrobras also carried out maintenance stoppages at the P-18 and P-37 platforms at Marlim field in the mature Campos Basin, the company said. The Marlim platforms were shuttered to upgrade equipment aimed at cleaning up and reducing wastewater dumped back into the Atlantic Ocean under a deal with federal environmental regulator IBAMA to improve operations at older platforms operating at mature fields.

The shutdowns have undermined growing subsalt production after Petrobras installed several new FPSOs during the year, including first oil from the Buzios field and completion of the first phase of development at the Lula field.

Lula, which was the first major subsalt field to enter production, is Brazil's biggest oil and gas producer.

In November, Petrobras started operation of the FPSO P-75 at Buzios, the second floating production unit at the field. First oil was pumped from the FPSO P-74 in late April.

Petrobras also started the FPSO P-69 at the Lula Extremo Sul area of Lula in October and the FPSO Cidade de Campos dos Goytacazes at the Tartaruga Verde field in June.

Petrobras also expects to complete installation of the FPSO P-67 at the Lula Norte area of Lula and the FPSO P-76 at Buzios by the end of December, with both vessels likely to pump first oil in early 2019.

The new FPSOs installed in 2018 all have installed production capacity of 150,000 b/d and 6 million cu m/d.

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Gas output, meanwhile, climbed for a third consecutive month in November as production continued to recover following the shutdown of the offshore Mexilhao platform in August and September.

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The platform was shuttered for 45 days for maintenance and to install a new tranche of the Route 1 export pipeline to the facility, which serves as a gas export hub for offshore fields in the Santos Basin.

The new pipeline is expected to boost oil and gas output next year, creating space to export greater volumes of associated gas from subsalt fields.

The heavy volume of associated gas contained in subsalt oil limits oil output from the region because of the lack of offshore export infrastructure and limits on the amount of gas that can be flared, or burned off, at the FPSOs.

Petrobras produced 80.3 million cu m/d from Brazilian fields in November, an increase of 0.4% from 79.9 million cu m/d in October, the company said. November's domestic gas output was also up 2.5% from 78.4 million cu m/d in November 2017.

The company's share of oil and gas production from international fields also declined month on month in November amid an ongoing shift in Petrobras' overseas portfolio. Petrobras is in the process of shedding most of its international assets to focus on subsalt investments offshore Brazil.

Petrobras' share of crude oil from international operations totaled 66,750 b/d in November, down from 81,060 b/d in October, the company said. Petrobras claimed 59,640 b/d in November 2017, company data showed.

International gas output slipped to 5.58 million cu m/d in November compared with 6.39 million cu m/d in October, Petrobras said. Petrobras produced 6.76 million cu m/d in November 2017.

Total hydrocarbons output, including domestic and international operations, also declined in November, Petrobras said. Petrobras produced 2.617 million boe/d in November, down from 2.663 million boe/d in October, the company said. It produced 2.723 million boe/d in November 2017.

--Jeff Fick, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, newsdesk@spglobal.com