Netherlands-based floater specialist SBM Offshore has confirmed it has been awarded a contract by Brazil’s Petrobras for the charter and provision of the Alexandre de Gusmao floating production, storage and offloading vessel.

The FPSO will be the fourth unit to be deployed in the Mero pre-salt field in the Santos basin, with operations scheduled to begin in 2025.

The two sides signed back in August a binding letter of intent for the contracting of the vessel, which will be capable of processing 180,000 barrels per day of oil and 12 million cubic metres per day of natural gas.

SBM is progressing with the design and construction of the FPSO hull using its Fast4Ward concept. The unit is due to operate for Petrobras in the Mero field for 22.5 years.

According to Petrobras, the Alexandre de Gusmao FPSO will be linked to 15 development wells, including eight oil producers, six water-alternating-gas injectors and one convertible well from producer to injector.

Petrobras has so far drilled four wells in the Mero-4 area, of which two have been completed.

A tender for the contracting of a rigid-riser system to serve the floater is expected to be launched by the end of the year.

Petrobras is set to start output at commercial scale from Mero next year with the arrival of the Guanabara FPSO.

Two more units — Sepetiba and Marechal Duque de Caxias — are earmarked to produce first oil in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

Petrobras operates Mero with a 40% stake and is partnered by European supermajors Shell and TotalEnergies on 20% each, while China National Petroleum Corporation and China National Offshore Oil Corporation hold 10% each.

In September SBM Offshore completed US$1.6 billion project financing of the floating production, storage and offloading vessel Sepetiba — the largest project financing in the company’s history.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on schedules.

First oil for the Guanabara FPSO, contracted with Modec, was pushed from the second half of 2021 into 2022.

SBM Offshore has also acknowledged that work on the Sepetiba FPSO at China Merchants Heavy Industry's yard has been affected both by the supply chain environment and Covid-19 challenges, with the impacts of a new mitigation plan still to be put to the test.

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