New oil research lab opens in Rio

Jon Lawson

A laboratory hoping to guarantee an increase of 22 billion barrels of oil in Brazil’s reserves has opened at Ilha do Fundão, in Rio’s Northern Zone. The Advanced Petroleum Recovery Laboratory, inaugurated by Coppe, a research unit of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), is ready to produce technology that will allow the country to expand its oil production, extracting more resources from the already well exploited reserves.

In the new laboratory, which received investments of R$ 107 million from Shell and R$ 10 million from Petrobras, research will be carried out with the objective of investigating and developing advanced recovery techniques applicable to Brazilian pre-salt carbonate rocks. This is a new area of research, whose results could represent billions of dollars in royalties and new investments in Brazil.

According to data from the National Petroleum Agency (ANP), the oil recovery factor in Brazil is 21%. According to the professor of Coppe’s Civil Engineering Program, Paulo Couto, coordinator of the laboratory, an increase of only 1% in the rate of recovery of Brazilian rocks could represent US$ 11 billion in royalties, generating an increase in reserves and new investments estimated in US$ 16 billion.

According to Couto, the equipment purchased for the laboratory can operate any fluids from reservoirs located at great depths, under 700 times atmospheric pressure and up to 150ºC. “We have unique equipment, a porous media flow greenhouse, equipped with an x-ray scanner, which will allow dynamic images at high pressure and a high temperature of oil flow in carbonate rocks. A unique dataset in the world, that does not exist in the literature, and the UFRJ and the Heriot-Watt University stand out as pioneers in this field”, he said, highlighting the partnership with the Scottish institution.


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