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Fostering new skills
Some 5,000 people working on three continents helped develop the Parque das Conchas project. It is the first project in Brazil that Shell has taken from exploration through to production in its 102-year history in the country. On the way, the company has trained new Brazilian engineers.
Brazil is a relatively new oil-producing country for Shell. We have been marketing oil products there since 1913 and today have significant downstream operations through our Raízen joint venture. Shell was the first integrated oil company to discover oil and gas in Brazil in the 1970s. Since liberalisation of the market in 1998, Shell Brasil’s exploration business has increased rapidly.
Shell Brasil has trained young Brazilian engineers who will sustain the company through its current growth and into the future. “What we’ve been able to do here is for every senior engineer, bring in a junior Brazilian engineer, who will be here for the longer term,” says Lee Stockwell, former Senior Petrophysical engineer in the sub-surface team. The training programme has brought career development opportunities to young engineers.
There is a strong need to attract technical talent, especially petroleum engineers, essential to the rapid local development of the energy industry today. Shell’s long presence, recent successes in exploration and production and new prospects place it in a good position to recruit the right people.
New prospects in Brazilian fields
Production started at Parque das Conchas in early July 2009. Shell has been producing from Brazil’s offshore fields since 2003 and has now produced more than 100 million boe in country. In total we are present in four exploration and production areas in Brazil.
Brazil currently has more than 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent in remaining reserves and is expected to be one of the world’s top 10 oil producers by 2020, according to the 2013 World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency. The same study points out that Brazil holds some of the largest discoveries in the world over recent years.
However, unlike at Parque das Conchas, almost all the oil in these newly-discovered fields lay beneath thick layers of salt. The salt distorts seismic imaging, making it harder to pinpoint where to drill. In other fields Shell uses technology to correct the distortion, making images more accurate: some 10% of Shell’s production comes from “pre-salt” reservoirs in the Gulf of Mexico, Groningen in the Netherlands and Oman, with a track record of high recovery rates.