Once the 2013 edition of the Mexican Petroleum Congress (CMP) has been left behind, it is important that all its participants carry on with the spirit of innovation that it conveyed: “Talent to innovate: today’s commitment for tomorrow’s Mexico.” The industry’s recent developments have left the country with a huge trial up front: to continue producing hydrocarbons on the levels that Cantarell yielded; however the means that Pemex had to successfully reach those targets – namely, Cantarell and its easy oil – are in the lower part of a declining trend. The task is not an easy one and, knowingly so, Pemex has further opened itself to innovation, new technologies and creation in order to achieve the settled milestones. The creation of the Development division and the appointment of a successful young CEO are evidence of the government’s push for Pemex’s modernization and, under the optimal use of the Conacyt-Sener Hydrocarbons Fund, the promotion of technological innovation and creation is the main strategy to live up to the challenge.
During the inauguration of the 2013 edition of CMP, Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya Austin outlined four guidelines that should mark the NOC’s approach to the challenges ahead: (1) to increase production and accelerate the incorporation and development of new hydrocarbon reserves, (2) to increase the operational efficiency with which the company conducts itself in the interest of improving Pemex’s current performance, (3) to increase corporate responsibility and accountability, emphasizing the company’s sustainability, and (4) to accelerate the modernization process of the company’s administration through the acquisition of newer skills and the professionalization and development of the company’s human resources.
Following each of the conferences that were presented during the congress and the guidelines mentioned by Lozoya Austin, Pemex has successfully managed to give continuation to the ideas that have been prioritized during the past 10 years. This reckons as a great achievement for the country’s energy prospects, since the common practice for new administrations is to discontinue ongoing plans in favor of their ‘fresh’ ideas. President Enrique Peña Nieto and CEO Emilio Lozoya Austin, however, have devised a new approach to achieve the already ongoing targets for the company, setting the bar even higher under the promise of better – and fairer – energy distribution with eyes on sustainable development, technology creation and human resources growth (both in quantity and quality).
With the latter in mind, the main associations within the Mexican oil and gas industry have developed strategies to further professionalize the operation of their technicians. The Colegio de Ingenieros Petroleros Mexicanos (CIPM – Mexican College of Petroleum Engineers), the Asociación de Ingenieros Petroleros Mexicanos (AIPM – Mexican Association of Petroleum Engineers), and the Asociación Mexicana de Geólogos Petroleros (AMGP – Mexican Association of Petroleum Geologists) have devised certification programs to enhance their professionals’ knowledge and increase the standards of the technicians that form part of their associations. Under the recent confirmation of hydrocarbon presence at deepwater well Maximino-1 – located at Perdido – we make today’s emphasis to talk about a profession that is crucial to continue exploration success: the petroleum geologist.
Petroleum geology is devoted to every aspect within the formation of reservoirs and their exploration. In order to discover and confirm the presence of hydrocarbons in geological provinces, these technicians need to combine diverse techniques to prioritize exploration prospects, verify and account the total hydrocarbon reserves of each reservoir. Several technologies have been developed in order to streamline the process, which include 2D and 3D seismic, wide azimuth surveys, gravity gradiometry, satellite mapping and electromagnetic surveys, among others. As the objectives turn more difficult and remote, technology has to evolve to yield success. Mexico is experiencing a transition from easy oil prospects to more difficult hydrocarbon detection and extraction: reserve incorporation has turned more complicated and expensive under the necessity of ensuring Mexico’s energy independence after Cantarell’s decline. Therefore, petroleum geologists have had to increase their knowledge of newer technologies and techniques to make the transition almost seamless: Pemex has successfully managed to maintain production at constant levels during the past few years, and part of this accomplishment is due to the work that petroleum geologists do.
The AMGP comprises a big percentage of the petroleum geologists working in Mexico, under the commission of developing them into better professionals and enlarging their skills and aptitudes to face these new challenges that Mexico is facing. “We don’t only have geologists, despite our name; the core of our members is working for Pemex Exploration & Production, covering the prospective search for leads, as well as basic processes of exploration within sedimentary basins – getting to know the differences between salt rocks, reservoir rocks, and the timing to model their characteristics into results,” states Juan Antonio Cuevas Leree, President of the AMGP. “The main role of our members for Pemex E&P is to first evaluate prospects for oil and gas resources in the country, and then to prioritize which should be further explored according to the interpretation of their geological characteristics. Exploration depends on information coming from the different basins in the country, and we are the team in charge of collecting the data coming from those basins and interpreting it into tangible information.”
“The association of petroleum geologists in Mexico is a special association, because 99% of our associates are working in Pemex, so we are very close to what Pemex is doing. As you noticed before, all the Presidents have been managers in PEP.” – Juan Antonio Cuevas Leree, President of the Asociación Mexicana de Geólogos Petroleros (AMGP).
While the association provides a place where petroleum geologists can gather and discuss their profession and its prospects to help in the development of the Mexican oil and gas industry, it is also a place to cultivate knowledge in order to face the different regional challenges that may emerge on geologists’ everyday operation. “The association gives us the opportunity and space to discuss technical issues and best practices. In order to expand our knowledge, we also put together special technical sessions on matters relevant to the industry, such as deepwater, non-associated gas, and shale resources,” Cuevas Leree explains. “Pemex sometimes does not have the time to do this, since they have so many targets in their operational horizon. This is why we have taken the role of sharing knowledge to add value. We are involved in approaching Pemex’s new employees, coming directly from universities as graduate students to give them introductory courses for three months to develop the necessary background on petroleum geology and geophysics in order to contribute immediately to Pemex’s objectives.”
The development of human resources is one of the association’s main goals, and, following Lozoya Austin’s guidelines for future Pemex operation, AMGP is lobbying to create the petroleum geology certification – initiative proposed by Cuevas Leree. “Establishing a certification requirement for petroleum geologists will provide Pemex with the certainty of hiring technicians with standard knowledge on the subject,” – the AMGP President states. “These courses will also serve as the bridge for older generations to share the knowledge and experiences we have to younger generations, closing the gap that today exists among petroleum professionals.”
The continuation of 2013’s CMP slogan “Talent to innovate: today’s commitment for tomorrow’s Mexico” passes through the development of human resources and their abilities to manage tomorrow’s technological challenges, and Pemex is aware of it. Therefore, Cuevas Leree has been appointed to continue with the legacy of 2013 and realize it for 2014, as he will be in charge of organizing the 2014 edition of the Mexican Petroleum Congress in Acapulco.