The Campos Basin in offshore Brazil has been explored and produced since the 1980s, making it a relatively mature basin with a known working hydrocarbon system. Primarily Petrobras has been the dominant operator in the area exploring the post-salt resource. Resource potential in the Campos and Santos basins (includes only pre-salt) was published as 176 BBOE by a study conducted by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. A look at the current operator activity in the basin shows majors like Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Equinor present in addition to Petrobras. After the late 1990s and the Brazil energy reform, Brazil and the Campos Basin were opened for operations and ownership to companies besides Petrobras.
There are over 40 producing fields in the Campos Basin, primarily operated by Petrobras, with one being appraised by Shell and two recent discoveries by Equinor (Figure 2). The production is the basin has been declining at about 9% per year recently, so new fields coming online will be welcomed with underutilized infrastructure capacity by the basin (Figure 3). Activity has been primarily post-salt, but there is potential for secondary and tertiary recovery efforts to be implemented in the declining fields plus additional pre-salt exploration opportunities to fill the under-capacity infrastructure in the basin.There is development and production activity in the Campos Basin as Petrobras is in the bid process and/or actively deploying FPSOs to three fields (Figure 4). Petrobras is in the bid process to deploy an FPSO with 100,000bo/d and 176 MMCFg/d capacity. The Jubarte Field has an interesting story, as it originally was six separate post-salt fields, each with estimated resources in the 100 MMBOE range. Today, 25 wells are producing from the pre-salt in the Campos Basin, with 14 of these in the Jubarte area producing over 180,000 bo/d.
The result of the large pre-salt discovery forced Petrobras to unitize all six separate fields into one field plus it kicked in a special participation tax, as the discovered resource is so large. In addition, Petrobras plans to deploy two new FPSOs to revitalize the Marlim Field production and its pre-salt component, and another FPSO is allocated for the pre-salt resource at the Albacora Field.
Bid Rounds and Future Activity
The most recent bid round, APN Round 15, concluded earlier this year with 47 blocks offered in offshore Brazil and 22 blocks awarded. All nine blocks covering 6,100 sq km offered in the Campos Basin were awarded (Figure 5). Participants of the Bid Round included: ExxonMobil, Shell, Petrobras, BP, Repsol and Qatar Petroleum. Partnerships between the participants were the key to this bid round to enable companies to put up the impressive bonuses and premiums. Block C-M-709 was awarded to Petrobras (operator 30%), Equinor (30%) and ExxonMobil (40%) with a bid of R$1.5 billion. Block C-M-657 was awarded to the same consortium with a signature bonus of R$2.128 billion. The highest bid in the round went to Block C-M-789. This block was won by ExxonMobil (operator 40%), Petrobras (30%) and Qatar Petroleum (30%), bidding a signature bonus of R$2.8248 billion and easily besting a partnership bid from Shell and Chevron.
With the conclusion of the last sale, what is the future for the Campos? There are multiple upcoming licensing rounds in June and September, plus the permanent cycle offer in the basin as well (that will not include the pre-salt – Figure 6). Also, with the improvement of technology to image through the 1-2 km salt layer in the basin, TGS was approved in March 2018 to shoot a 9500 sq km 3D seismic survey over the offered blocks in APN Round 16 in 2019.
In conclusion, with the upcoming licensing rounds offering blocks in both the Campos and Santos basins, the Campos Basin might be a better value for a few reasons:
- More infrastructure in place in the Campos versus the Santos
- Both basins have pre-salt prospects, but the Campos has post-salt reserves that are easier and cheaper to drill
- Possibility of more favorable concession regime in the Campos Basin
- Giant fields maturing or declining but very little done for secondary recovery on most of them
Based on some of the above-mentioned factors, the Campos Basin has commanded high prices on the recent rounds, meaning you need to come ready with deep pockets.