OREANDA-NEWS. Brazil's state-controlled Petrobras has started crude and natural gas production at a fifth floating, production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit in the Lula sub-salt field.

The Cidade de Maricá, which has a capacity to produce 150,000 b/d of crude and 6mn m3/d (212mn ft3/d) of gas, is moored around 270km (167mi) from the coast of Rio de Janeiro state at a water depth of 2,120m (6,955ft).

"With this additional unit, the sub-salt layer of the Santos and Campos basins already accounts for 35pc of Brazil's oil production. The consolidation of the Santos Basin production, which accounts for 70pc of [sub-salt output], has been taking place for just over five years, with the installation of a major platform every nine months on average," Petrobras said.

Sub-salt production in Brazil hit a record 767,000 b/d in 2015, a 56pc increase over 2015, according to Petrobras.

The company accounts for around 70pc of all sub-salt output in Brazil.

Lula has estimated total recoverable reserves of 8.3bn bl of oil equivalent (boe). The field started production in 2010 and is scheduled to receive five additional units by 2020.

The first four production systems at Lula are currently producing around 475,000 b/d of 30°API crude from 19 wells, some of which are yielding 30,000-34,000 b/d.

Lula is Brazil's largest oil and gas-producing field, accounting for 442,000 b/d and 20.6mn m³/d in December, according to the most recent data from Brazilian oil regulator ANP.

Petrobras holds a 65pc operating stake in the BM-S-11 block where Lula is located.

Following its $53bn acquisition of the UK's BG, Shell now holds a 25pc stake and Portugal's Galp the remaining 10pc.

Petrobras plans to add another platform in Lula, the 150,000 b/d FPSO Cidade de Saquarema, and one in the Santos basin's Lapa field, the 100,000 b/d FPSO Cidade de Caraguatatuba, later this year.

On 12 February, Petrobras started pumping associated gas from Santos to the onshore Cabiúnas Gas Treatment plant in Macaé, Rio de Janeiro state through a 401km shallow water subsea pipeline known as Route 2.

Brazil's largest subsea pipeline, Route 2 has the capacity to transport 13mn m³/d to the 28.4mn m³/d Cabiúnas facility. Route 2 will connect with Route 1, which has been transporting around 10mn m³/d of gas from the Campos basin to Cabiúnas since 2011.

"With this new gas pipeline, total installed capacity for gas transportation from the pre-salt layer of the Santos Basin reaches 23mn m3/d, allowing an increase in oil production and an expansion in national gas supply to the Brazilian market, helping consolidate Petrobras' strategy of expanding the role of gas in its business," Petrobras said.

Petrobras holds a 55pc operating stake in the consortium that owns Route 2. Shell holds a 25pc stake, and Spanish Chinese joint venture Repsol-Sinopec and Galp each hold a 10pc stake.