Brazil’s Petroleo Brasilerio SA, better known as Petrobras, has ramped up production from a well connected to the first floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel platform in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

The state-owned oil company, an acknowledged global leader in FPSO technology, said production began in late February at the deepwater Cascade field in the Cascade No. 4 well, which is connected to the FPSO BW Pioneer. The platform is about 165 miles off the coast of Louisiana in 8,200 feet of water and is capable of processing up to 16 MMcf/d of natural gas and 80,000 b/d of oil. It also can store up to 500,000 bbl of oil.

U.S. officials approved the FPSO design four years ago for use in the Cascade-Chinook area in the Walker Ridge area of the Lower Tertiary trend (see Daily GPI, April 30, 2008). Last year subsidiary Petrobras America Inc. won final approval to begin production using the FPSO platform (see Daily GPI, March 21, 2011). Petrobras is sole owner of the Cascade field. It also has a 66.7% stake in Chinook, with France’s Total SA the minority owner.

The FPSO is capable of processing natural gas and oil, and is able to store crude oil in tanks in the facility’s hull. The Cascade well is connected to the vessel platform through a system composed of subsea equipment and lines, in addition to free-standing risers, or vertical production lines. The FPSO is able to offload crude to shuttle tankers for transport to shore. Processed natural gas is to be transported by pipeline.

What makes the FPSO unique is its detachable mooring system, which allows it to sail to sheltered areas during hurricanes and storms, and provide security for the crew and the environment, as well as equipment.

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