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Shell planning to drill at Saturno area off Brazil

Anglo-Dutch supermajor lines up programme on Santos basin acreage using drillship Brava Star

Shell has outlined plans to launch a drilling campaign in the high-profile Saturno area in the Santos basin early next year, as the Anglo-Dutch supermajor presses forward with an aggressive pace of activity on its deep-water pre-salt exploration assets off Brazil.

Upstream understands the Saturno programme is earmarked to start in January 2020 with Shell using the Constellation Oil Services drillship Brava Star.

The well, which is to be drilled in 2621 metres of water in the centre-east section of Saturno, is expected to last three months and reach a target depth of approximately 5100 metres.

The Brava Star is presently concluding drilling of the Gato do Mato-3 appraisal well in the South of Gato do Mato pre-salt area.

Last month, Shell notified market regulator ANP it had encountered traces of hydrocarbons at Gato do Mato-3, potentially boosting the materiality of the maiden discovery on an adjoining concession.

Following the conclusion of the well, Shell will move the rig a few kilometres north to spud a wildcat in the Alto de Cabo Frio Oeste pre-salt area.

The campaign in Alto de Cabo Frio Oeste is set to take place in water depths of 1800 metres and start later this month.

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However, before deploying the Brava Star to Saturno, Shell will use the rig around December 2019 to replace up to four subsea boosting modules across the Parque das Conchas complex in the Campos basin.

While the probe in Saturno is slated for January 2020, the programme may be delayed by a few weeks due to activities that will be carried out first in Alto de Cabo Frio Oeste and Parque das Conchas.

Shell, headed in Brazil by Andre Araujo, has committed to the drilling of a single probe in Saturno, but depending on the results of the well the company will run a drillstem test in the area.

It is understood that five additional wells located in water depths of between 2597 metres and 2656 metres could be drilled to appraise a potential discovery in Saturno, with the campaign to take place throughout next year and 2021.

Shell has the Brava Star on hire until December for a low dayrate said to be about $130,000, but the contract carries up to seven well options said sources, which suggests the drillship might be employed for a lot longer.

“I would be very surprised if Shell decides not to keep using the rig in 2020 and maybe 2021 for such a low rate,” a rig source told Upstream.

The European company will use the platform supply vessels Maersk Vega and Saavedra Tide to assist in operations at Saturno.

Shell acquired Saturno last September in the country’s fifth pre-salt round and has fast-tracked the project with environmental licensing authorities.

Earlier this year, the company carried out a short baseline survey campaign in the area to better characterise the Saturno reservoir prior to drilling with the Gardline-owned research vessel Seward Johnson.

Besides the large Saturno prospect, which is the one to be drilled early next year, a 3D seismic survey also mapped the Dione structure in the block.

Together, they are estimated to hold unrisked volumes of 6.22 billion barrels of oil in place.

Shell operates the Saturno production sharing contract with a 45% stake and is partnered by US supermajor Chevron on 45% and Colombia’s Ecopetrol on 10%.

67c8563550ab91e8d11631b21dcbd16d Prospects: Shell Brazil president Andre Araujo Photo: SHELL
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