The Mexican oil and gas industry entered a new era in 2013. Under the leadership of a new President and a new CEO of Pemex, the industry will be building on the exploration and production success of 2012 and is preparing itself for the new opportunities that are expected to be opened up by the energy reform later this year. While 2012 represented a year of hope and planning, it set the stage for a new energy outlook in the future.
At this time of change, Mexico Oil & Gas Review provides a comprehensive overview of the latest developments, business strategies, technological breakthroughs, and operational challenges in the Mexican oil and gas industry. By connecting key stakeholders across the public and private sectors, Mexico Oil & Gas Review 2013 is dedicated to accelerating the exchange of essential industry information that drives the industry’s development and allows you to capitalize on emerging business opportunities. Published annually, it features the perspectives of 183 leading Mexican and international players in the industry, and offers an in-depth analysis of the crucial industry trends. Moreover, it matches Mexico’s main operational and technological challenges with international best practices and proven technologies that have the potential to boost Mexico’s upstream and downstream performance.
The topics covered in this year’s edition of Mexico Oil & Gas Review are those that have mattered the most in the Mexican oil and gas industry over the last twelve months, while the publication also provides an in-depth understanding of the most relevant issues that are expected to influence and transform the industry in the coming year. On Wednesday, June 5th, Mexico Oil & Gas Review will be officially released at the Mexican Petroleum Congress. Until then, we will be providing you with previews of the articles that will be featured in Mexico Oil & Gas Review 2013. Today, we invite you to learn more about the deepwater exploration success in 2012 – one that should reshape the operation for Pemex E&P in the future – through the main responsible people in achieving it.
“Pemex’s exploration activities in 2012 had a heavy emphasis on deepwater,” says José Antonio Escalera Alcocer, Subdirector of Exploration at Pemex E&P. Thirteen years after the drilling of its first deepwater well, Pemex finally proved its critics wrong by discovering oil in deepwater. “The key factors in our success in deepwater were budget flexibility and the patience to allow the expertise to develop in order to execute our deepwater program,” says Carlos Morales Gil, Director of Pemex Exploration and Production. “Our deepwater success goes back to our first efforts years ago to acquire seismic and regional studies to define the best prospective areas.” Once this strategy was in place, the company evaluated different basins in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and decided to focus on five regions: the Catemaco folded belt, south subsalt provinces, the continuation of the Campeche Bay, the Cordilleras Mexicanas area, and the Perdido folded belt.
The exploration division first focused on Catemaco, where the company discovered a gas province. This made the Catemaco folded belt the first targeted area where indications of hydrocarbons were found. “We went there and discovered a vast gas province, with the most representative field being Lakach, which is already in the development process,” says Morales Gil. The Ocean Worker also drilled successful gas-producing wells Noxal-1 and Lalail-1, while the Ocean drilled gas and condensate producer Leek-1. After Catemaco, Pemex’s exploration sights were set on testing some of the subsalt provinces in the south. “Even though we found hydrocarbons in those provinces, they were not yet ready for extraction,” Morales Gil details. “Catamat-1 constituted our first disappointment in deepwater.” Besides Catamat-1, Pemex drilled three more unsuccessful wells in the area: Chelem-1, Holok-1, and Kabilil-1. In parallel, Pemex started drilling on another basin, Nox-Hux in the deepwater continuation of the Campeche Bay, where the Nab-1 and Tamil-1 were geologically successful, with Pemex confirming heavy oil in the region.
In 2007, three additional rigs were contracted. The arrival of Centenario and Bicentenario in 2010, and of West Pegasus in 2011 allowed Pemex to venture down to 3,000m. This marked the start of testing a fourth deepwater area for hydrocarbons: Cordilleras Mexicanas. “We drilled three wells there: Caxa-1, Talipau-1, and Puskon-1,” Morales Gil says. “Puskon-1, which was the deepest well that Pemex had drilled in deepwater with a depth of 7,632m, turned out to be a very high-pressure well, and, although we discovered hydrocarbons there, the pressure made it extremely hard to evaluate them. Therefore, we decided to leave them out of short-term plans and come back in the future. Caxa-1 and Talipau-1, on the other hand, were a disappointment.”
Finally, the Pemex E&P division went to the long-anticipated Perdido folded belt, ready with rigs capable of drilling to 3,000m. After the seismic information was analyzed, Pemex decided where to drill first. “We proceeded to drill Trion-1 in the subsalt area of Perdido and we identified the presence of high quality hydrocarbons, in rocks with very good permeability and porosity in several geologic horizons, adding 350 to 500 million barrels to our 3P reserves,” Morales Gil describes. Pemex then divided Perdido into two areas: the traditional Perdido folded belt and the subsalt area, which led to a new discovery. Supremus was supposed to be a trial well to obtain information for a better design of deeper wells, such as Maximino. “Surprisingly,” Morales says, “we also found some hydrocarbon accumulation in the Oligocene formation, which led to the discovery of around 125 million barrels of reserves.” The importance of these two wells was not only the unexpected discovery of oil reserves; it served as confirmation of the existence of a petroleum system that could add up to 13 billion barrels of oil, according to Pemex’s estimations. Today, Pemex has over 55 prospects identified in the area.