Mexico has finally launched the long-awaited Round 3.3, which contains the first unconventional fields to be licensed since the Energy Reform. The terms of the licensing procedure for nine unconventional blocks in Tamaulipas’ Burgos basin were published in the Official Federal Journal this Friday, March 2. Minister of Energy Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said the Energy Reform permits the use of new tools to exploit the oil and gas resources in little-explored areas in the country. He added that 53 percent of Mexico’s oil and gas reserves are unconventionals.
Unconventional reserves are the principal area of potential growth for exploration companies, with Mexico having roughly three times as many undocumented unconventional reserves as conventional ones. Of the 185 unconventional blocks listed in the Ministry of Energy’s 2014-2019 Five-Year Plan, 80 are in the Tampico-Misantla Basin, 70 in the Sabinas-Burgos Basin and 35 in the Sabinas Basin, which together account for 30,905.4mmboe of undocumented prospective reserves.
The long delay in licensing unconventionals was due to slowness in creating a regulatory framework, which required the modification of three laws, six regulations and 11 norms, according to the head of ASEA, Carlos de Regules. The successful licensing of these nine blocks could open the floodgates on unconventional exploration and production in Mexico.
Joaquín Coldwell underlined the importance of these shale gas fields, noting that Mexico currently imports 82 percent of its natural gas. Aside from reducing dependence on US natural gas, the project is expected to increase employment in Tamaulipas and reduce emissions from less clean sources of energy.