Since 2006, with the discovery of pre-salt and huge oil and gas reserves in ultra-deep marine waters of over seven thousand feet from the surface, Petrobras experienced one of the most important challenges in its history, both logistically and technically.
To withstand the harsh environments of these fields in the pre-salt wells with critical well projects, Vallourec has been investing not only in the performance of its VAM® Connections - testing the technical capacity and robustness of these products in combination of severe conditions of pressure, temperature, tensile, compression and corrosion - but also expanding its range of specialized services that strive for innovation and especially synergy/proximity in development between the two partners.
In 2014, a quantum leap in terms of proximity was taken. Upon closing two new contracts with Petrobras, Vallourec, in addition to supplying premium products like newly developed steel grades and its new family of VAM® 21TM connections
, signed an agreement to provide services, adding value in terms of logistics and offshore applications through Vallourec Transportation and Services located in the Special Business Zone (SBZ) in the city of Rio das Ostras (RJ).
According to Wllisses Afonso, manager of casing and cementing on Petrobras maritime wells, the new E&P reality puts Brazil in a strategic position to meet the huge worldwide energy demand in the coming decades, which requires a closer relationship between suppliers and the company. "All the services offered by Vallourec in this new agreement are very important. Along with seamless tubes and accessories, these services are the closure of the entire cycle."
Today, Vallourec expands its presence more and more in the Petrobras well casing and cementing chain with experts in VAM® Field Service, evolving from four technicians in 2007 to 45 offshore technicians in 2015, working aboard drilling rigs operated by Petrobras along the Brazilian coast. The work of the new onshore staff within the Petrobras office in Macae - comprised of two Desks Engineers, 12 Desks Logistics and a spot inspection technician - reinforces the collaborative process, allowing Vallourec to meet the routine requirements of the oil well casing sector. This contribution covers from the project design stage up to the monitoring of rigs.
"The presence of specialized personnel in the field, a staff that knows its product, is always very positive. Until recently, the operational side of supplying of pipes and connections was enough. Today, it takes more than that: we need to focus more strongly on a strategic vision, a more integrated relationship. We are joining forces to enable products with associated services, focusing on the delivery of the desired result. This is the great challenge," he says.
With ten years in the company, Wllisses believes that the word "development" sums up what Vallourec's technical support work for Petrobras means, specifically the VAM® concept.
For him, proximity between Petrobras and Vallourec will be strengthened during the next stage, the in loco partnership with the involvement of Vallourec in the process in anticipation of demand. "As this interaction is very recent, we are now in the process of adaptation. And the next stage envisions the delivering of the final product, bringing in people with different solutions, adding and increasing value. And we are moving in that direction as well. Management should cover everything from a product leaving the plant to the planning and execution of the project, beginning with a discussion of what is the best product (pipe and connection) and continuing on with intelligent inventory management, logistics, planning and realization of offshore operations."
For the future, Wllisses believes that the connections in general will evolve in terms of ease. "VAM® responded quickly to demand for new products. Today, there are integral connections, such as VAM® FPOTM, VAM® BOLTTM
and others developed specifically for Petrobras, which were born of this interaction between the teams. Soon, we hope to have connections that allow assembly of the casing columns to be even easier and smoother, reducing the need for human intervention (monitoring) on the rig floor. All this while maintaining our attention to the demands of each project. Thus, we will minimize risk on the rig where load, pressure, temperature, etc. conditions are critical. This is the next challenge for both teams," he says.