The giant Lula pre-salt field, Brazil’s largest offshore development, could be nearing an end — but not in the way some may imagine.
Declared commercial in December 2010 from the Tupi discovery in Block BM-S-11 in the prolific Santos basin, oil output at Lula has thrived in the past decade, topping 1 million barrels per day from nine floating production, storage and offloading vessels.
With more than 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent in recoverable volumes, Lula currently accounts for about half the country’s pre-salt production.
However, Lula’s number could be up. That is because some plaintiffs have accused state giant Petrobras of naming the field to honour former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who concluded his second term just days after the declaration of commerciality.
A court ruling issued last week determined that Petrobras must rename the Lula field after it considered that the name was devised as a way of promoting the former president.
While there was clearly a political motivation to name Brazil’s largest field after such a charismatic leader, there is also also a far less controversial possibility.
According to Brazilian legislation, all offshore fields must be named after a form of marine life, and lula is the Portuguese word for squid.
Lula – the politician – was arrested in April 2018 after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption and money laundering following the Car Wash probe into corruption involving Petrobras and others.
He was eventually freed last November following a Supreme Court decision that allowed him to exhaust all appeal processes against his graft conviction.
It remains unclear if Petrobras will appeal the court’s name-change order, but no matter which name is eventually chosen, one thing is certain: the field will continue to produce at high rates for many more decades to come.