PPIM Contra – call for papers
PPIM Contra – call for papers

From the mountains to the sea: a review of South America

South America has vast resources, located both onshore and offshore, and has commenced a number of projects to increase their production. Here, Pipelines International provides a snapshot of some of the major projects recently completed, currently underway, and proposed for the region.

South America has seen a significant boom over the last couple years in its oil and gas industry. Brazil has seen a major increase in both its onshore and offshore production, and will be constructing the first pipelines to its Pre-Salt region. Colombia is in negotiations for oil transport and Argentina is looking into LNG, and the continent is increasing local production and consumption as well as becoming involved in international joint ventures.


Located on the east coast of South America, Brazil has seen a large amount of pipeline activity over the last two years. The nation’s transmission pipeline network has nearly doubled from 5,607 km in December 2002 to 9,626 km in December 2010.

Located on the eastern coast of the Continent, the country is involved with both onshore and offshore pipeline activities.

Onshore activities

In March 2011, construction commenced on Petrobras’ 850 km ethanol pipeline, with the first weld taking place in RibeirÌ£o Preto, SÌ£o Paulo, Brazil.

The pipeline will link Brazil’s main ethanol producing regions in Brazil’s mid-west, Minas Gerais, and SÌ£o Paulo, to the large consuming centres of SÌ£o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. When completed, the pipeline will have the capacity to transport 21 MMcm/a of ethanol.

Two collection centres will also be constructed: one in Uberaba in Minas Gerais; the other in Ribeiṛo Preto in Ṣo Paulo, aimed at receiving the ethanol from the production plants, mainly via road tanker transport.

The first section of the pipeline will extend 202 km from Ribeiṛo Preto to Paulinia. The second phase of the project will involve the construction of a pipeline northward through mid-western states, including Goia. The system will then be extended to Barueri and Guarulhos, located in Greater Ṣo Paulo, and Duque de Caxias in Rio de Janeiro.

The entire project is expected to be brought online in mid-2014.

The ethanol pipeline system is part of Petrobras’ Growth Acceleration Programme (GAP), which includes plans to export 4.2 MMcm of ethanol in 2013. The company is currently using the Ilha d’́gua terminal in Rio de Janeiro and the MaceiÌ_ maritime terminal, in addition to the Santos and ParanaguÌÁ ports, to meet export demands.

One of Brazil’s biggest natural gas transportation developments, the 661 km Urucu – Coari – Manaus Pipeline, which was inaugurated in 2009, transports gas produced in the Solim̵es Basin in Urucu, to Manaus, the capital city of the state of Amazonas, located in northern Brazil.

The main trunkline is divided into two sections: an 18 inch diameter, 278 km API 5L X65 steel pipeline on the Urucu to Coari section; and a 20 inch diameter, 383 km API 5L X70 steel pipeline on the Coari to Manaus section.

Between Coari and Manaus, seven laterals, totalling approximately 140 km in length, have been built to supply the municipalities of Coari, CodajÌÁs, Anori, AnamÌ£, Caapiranga, Manacapuru, and Iranduba, as well as two additional branches to supply the Aparecida and MauÌÁ power stations in Manaus.

Petrobras also inaugurated the 267km, 18 inch diameter Rio de Janeiro – Belo Horizonte Gas Pipeline II (Gasbel II), connecting Volta Redonda in the state of Rio de Janeiro to Queluzito in the state of Minas Gerais with a capacity of 5 MMcm/d of natural gas.

Prior to 2010, the state of Minas Gerais was serviced solely by the Gasbel I Pipeline.

In January 2010, Petrobras commissioned the PaulÌ_nia – Jacutinga Pipeline, which also serves Minas Gerais. The Gasbel II and the PaulÌ_nia – Jacutinga Pipeline have increased the state’s delivery capacity from 3 MMcm/d to 12.9 MMcm/d of gas.

In March 2010, Petrobras inaugurated the 1,387 km Southeast Northeast Integration Gas Pipeline (Gasene) – the longest pipeline constructed in Brazil in the past ten years.

The pipeline will transport natural gas produced in southeast Brazil, imported from Bolivia or regasified at the Guanabara Bay LNG terminal, to the northeastern states.

Construction work on the Gasene was divided into three sections: a 130 km section from Cacimbas to VitÌ_ria; a 303 km section from Cabi̼nas to VitÌ_ria; and, a 954 km section extending from Cacimbas to Catu.

The 28 inch diameter pipeline was also built as part of Brazil’s GAP. The pipeline has an initial capacity of 10 MMcm/d, with the option to increase capacity by installing additional compressor stations.

In southeastern Brazil, Petrobras brought South America’s largest diameter gas pipeline – the 179 km, 38 inch diameter Cabiunas-Reduc III Pipeline – online in February 2010.

The pipeline has a transportation capacity of 40 MMcm/d of gas and can transport gas produced from a variety of locations – including the Campos and Espirito Santo basins, gas imported from Bolivia, and gas from the Guanabara Bay LNG regasification terminal – to southeastern Brazil.

The trunkline cuts through eight Rio de Janeiro municipalities and the pipeline interconnects with the Japeri – Reduc, Reduc – Volta Redonda, and the Reduc-Belo Horizonte gas pipelines.

Offshore activities

In 2011, Petrobras awarded Saipem a contract to install two export pipelines in the country’s Pre-Salt region, in the Atlantic Ocean.

The contract is for the installation of the Guara and Lula-Northeast gas export pipelines in the Santos Basin, approximately 260 km off the coasts of Rio de Janeiro and SÌ£o Paulo, in water depths between 2,100 and 2,200 m.

The project involves the transportation, installation and pre-commissioning of two export pipelines, as well as the engineering, procurement and construction of related subsea equipment.

The 54 km, 18 inch diameter first line will connect the Guara floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel to a subsea gathering manifold in the Lula field. The FPSO is being constructed by Schahin/Modec consortium, will be able to produce 120,000 bbl/d of oil and 5 MMcm/d of gas, and is expected to go on-stream in late 2012.

The 22 km, 18 inch diameter second line will connect the Lula-Northeast FPSO to the same manifold in the Lula field.

Pipelaying on the project will be carried out at different times during 2012 and 2013.

Petrobras will also install a third offshore LNG terminal and construct a pipeline to export gas from the terminal to Brazil’s onshore pipeline network in the state of Bahia, Brazil.

The Bahia regasification terminal will be installed in the Bay of All Saints and will have the capacity to regasify 14 MMcm/d. A 49 km, 28 inch diameter pipeline will be constructed to connect the terminal to the pipeline network, including an offshore section of 15 km.

The new export pipeline will interconnect with the pipeline network at two sites: one in the Bahia network, at Candeias, and the other at the 1,465 km point on the Cacimbas – Catu Pipeline, a section of the Gasene Pipeline commissioned in March 2010.

The LNG terminal will supply natural gas to the state of Bahia, the heaviest consumer of gas among the northeastern Brazilian states.

Work on the project will begin in March 2012, with completion scheduled for August 2013.

Currently, Brazil has LNG terminals at Pecem, Ceara, with a regasification capacity of 7 MMcm/d and in the Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, with capacity of 14 MMcm/d. When the Bahia regasification terminal comes online in September 2013, Brazil’s total regasification capacity will reach 35 MMcm/d, overtaking the 31 MMcm/d of gas imported via pipeline from Bolivia.

In December 2010, Acergy was awarded a contract from Petrobras for the Sul-Norte Capixaba Project, located offshore Brazil in water depths of between 30 and 100 m.

The project scope includes the installation of an 18 inch diameter, 150 km long gas pipeline linking the Camarupim Field Gas Pipeline to the Parque das Baleias complex together with associated diving, construction, and pre-commissioning activities.

Engineering began immediately with offshore installation scheduled to commence late 2011, using the Acergy Polaris and Acergy Harrier.

Brazilian pipeline construction company GDK S.A. was responsible for the GASTAU Project, which includes a 28 inch diameter, 97 km natural gas pipeline extension 760 m elevated plains between the cities of SÌ£o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

The project runs from the Caraguatatuba Gas Treatment Plant to the Taubat̩ Custody Transfer Station and Ṣo Jos̩ dos Campos Refinery, in Ṣo Paulo State, Brazil.

The pipeline transports natural gas produced from the MexilhÌ£o field, located in the offshore Santos Basin. The first phase of the field’s development is expected to produce 15 MMcm/d of gas. The project was important to Brazil, aiming at increasing natural gas supply to feed industrial, automobile fuel and domestic consumption in SÌ£o Paulo and Rio de Janeiro cities.


The Argentine Government has proposed further development for the Noreste Argentino gas pipeline (GNEA) that involves the construction of three sections of the approximately 4,144 km pipeline, which will bring gas from Bolivia to Argentina.

The first section will interconnect with the Juana – Azurduy Pipeline in the province of Salta and run to the provincial boundary between the provinces of Salta and Formosa.

The second section will run along the provincial boundary between Salta and Formosa to the town of Ibarreta, in the province of Formosa, while the third section will run from Verato ArijÌ_n, both in Santa Fe Province.

In July 2011, the new 38 inch diameter, 48 km Juana – Azurduy Gas Pipeline, which runs between Bolivia and Argentina was inaugurated.

The pipeline runs 13 km through Bolivia and extends from the Margarita Gas Field in the southern part of Tarija to run parallel to the existing 8 inch diameter Madrejones Pipeline, which travels between the Madrejones Gas Field in Bolivia and the Refinor refinery. The pipeline then extends 35 km through Argentina, from the Refinor refinery to the Camp Duran facilities operated by Refinor, located in Salta, to join the Northeastern Argentina Gas Pipeline.

The pipeline will initially transport 7.7 MMcm/d of gas, eventually increasing to 27 MMcm/d.

Services Vertu constructed the Argentinean section of the pipeline.

A new 37.7 km, 24 inch diameter subsea pipeline, which will enable natural gas to flow from Tierra del Fuego Provinceto the neighbouring province of Santa Cruz, has been brought into operation.

Construction of the pipeline, which extends across the Strait of Magellan to link Cabo Espiritu Santo in Tierra del Fuego province with Cabo VÌ_rgenes in Santa Cruz province, was completed in March 2010.


Colombia’s crude oil production forecast for 2010-15 shows that the country’s total production will continue to increase rapidly to figures of nearly 1.3 MMbbl/d in 2013.

This increase of investment in oil production over recent years has necessitated the upgrade of existing pipeline infrastructure, as well as the construction of new export pipelines to export the oil.

Oleoducto Bicentenario de Colombia, a newly-integrated company, will construct, operate and own the proposed Bicentennial Pipeline – a new oil pipeline, which will run from the Casanare Department to the port of Cove̱as, in order to facilitate oil exports from the Llanos region, considered one of the most prospective regions in Colombia.

The joint venture company is made up of the following shareholders: Ecopetrol (55 per cent), Pacific Rubiales (32.88 per cent), Petrominerales (9.65 per cent), Hocol (0.96 per cent), C&C EnergÌ_a, Rancho Hermoso – Canacol Energy Ltd, and Vetra Exploracion & Produccion Colombia SAS (0.5 per cent each).

The pipeline will consist of a 42 inch and 36 inch diameter pipe, and have a capacity of 450,000 bbl/d of crude oil.

The project will be constructed in three stages. The first stage includes the laying of 226 km of pipe from Araguaney to Banadia as well as infrastructure upgrades at the port of Cove̱as.

Stage two of the project will see 387 km of pipe laid from BanadÌ_a to Ayacuch, while the final stage will see construction of the 310 km section from Ayacucho to Cove̱as.

The pipeline is expected to be operational by 2012.

In addition, Ecopetrol plans to boost the capacity of the 500 km Pozos – Galan oil and gas Pipeline System from 18 MMbbl/d of oil to 60 MMbbl/d of oil, and to improve the Transandino Pipeline, which links the Colombian cities of Santa Marta and Barrancabermeja.

The Transandino Pipeline runs 310 km from Orito to Tumaco in Colombia and was commissioned in 1969.

In May 2011, Pacific Rubiales announced that it has partnered with Belgian-based company Exmar to develop an LNG export project in northern Colombia.

The project involves the construction and development of a liquefaction and regasification barge, a small-scale vessel particularly suited for delivering LNG to industrial consumers, and the development of a pipeline from the company’s La Creciente gas field to the Caribbean coast.

The transportation of LNG will serve the growing export markets of the Caribbean and Central American markets to substitute for other expensive liquid fuels. Front end engineering and design for the project have been initiated. It is expected the project and pipeline will be fully operational during 2013.


YPFB Transporte will build a new network of pipelines in the south of the country to transport natural gas liquids (NGLs).

The project started from the increased production and export of natural gas to Argentina from the San Alberto field, Ita̼, Chad, and Margarita. This will provide Bolivia with a greater availability of NGLs and create a new network with a transport capacity of over 25,000 bbl/d.

The Southern Expansion Liquid System project mobilised NGLs for the domestic market from Chaco Tarija to Rio Grande in Santa Cruz to connect with YPFB’s refineries. The product will integrate the departments of Tarija, Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba.

The engineering was due for completion in mid-April 2011 after which the length of the pipeline network as to be finalised. Liquid-separations plants are being constructed in Rio Grande and Gran Chaco and will increase the production of LPG in Bolivia.

Bolivia’s YPFB Transportation has commenced construction on Phase II of its Gas Pipeline Cochabamba Carrasco (GCC) in April 2011.

The 16 inch diameter, 251 km, GCC pipeline is being constructed in three phases: Phase I Carrasco – Villa Tunari (108 km), Phase II Villa Tunari Section II – Pampa Tambo (78 km), and Phase III Pampa Tambo – Cochabamba (65 km).

Phase I of the pipeline was commissioned in June 2010.

Construction of Phase II of the pipeline from Villa Tunari to Pampa Tambo is through the area called “÷The chair’, and and is expected be completed in April 2012.

In addition, YPFB is considering two options for the increased LPG production: exporting to Argentina or constructing a propane pipeline to Sica Sica, Bolivia, and on to Ilo, Peru, and Arica in northern Chile.

The Bolivian Government has confirmed its plan to construct a natural gas pipeline to Uruguay via Paraguay in order to access the Uruguay gas market.

The Urapabol Pipeline will run from Trija, Bolivia, to Puerto Casado, Paraguay, before linking in to Uruguay.


Brazilian firms Petrobras and Oderbrecht are planning an alliance with Kuntur Gas Transportation Co, a subsidiary of US Conduit Partners, for the construction of a gas pipeline in Peru.

The 1,085 km pipeline would transport natural gas from central to southern Peru, where it would be used to supply copper mines. The proposed route runs from the Camisea Gas Fields, located in Cusco, to Juliaca, an Andean city near the border with Bolivia.

Construction will take approximately 18 months.

In June 2010, the 408 km Peru LNG Pipeline commenced transporting gas from the Camisea Gas Fields to the southern coastal region of Peru for export at a new LNG Plant, constructed at Pampa Melchorita. Originating in Chiquintirca in the Andes Mountains, east of Ayacucho, the pipeline also crosses through 22 districts: nine in Ayacucho, four in Huancavelica, eight in Ica,and one in Lima.

The 34 inch diameter pipeline system traverses approximately 308 km of rugged mountain terrain with numerous river crossings, and approximately 100 km of coastal desert plain.


In June 2011, Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados Ecuador SA (OCP) announced the potential to transport crude oil from Colombia to Ecuador.

The company owns the 485 km OCP Pipeline that transports heavy crude oil from the city of Nueva Loja in the province of Sucumbios, to the outskirts of the city of Esmeraldas, located on the Pacific Coast.

The pipeline has transported more than 380 MMbbl of heavy crude from 2003-2010.

OCP is currently in serious talks with several producers from Colombia regarding the possibility of transporting its oil by OCP. This possibility is going to be considered in two phases. The first refers to the possible transportation of production from fields in southern Colombia, near the Ecuador border, by the OCP, as early as mid-2012.

The second step would involve transporting crude oil on the side of Bogota in the Llano Orientales with a capacity of about 100,000 bbl/d. For this phase, a 700km pipeline would need to be constructed on the Colombian side, and run from Bogota to Orito, on the border with Ecuador.

Currently, the proposal has had a positive reception from the Ecuadorian Government and the OCP has met with four small producers in Colombia who have formed a commission to the study the possibility.


With the increase of both supply and demand in the oil and gas industry within South America, pipeline production will keep growing to meet consumer demands. This increase can be seen through various companies, future planning, such as Petrobras, who in July 2011 announced an investment of $US127.5 billion in to their exploration and production services and another $US3.1 billion in distribution for their 2011-15 business plan.

Also, with the co-operation between countries, and international investors, the onshore, offshore and LNG market will continue to grow to keep the pipeline industry thriving in the continent.

Show more

Related articles

Back to top button