This week’s Interview of the Week is with Karim Lassel, Vice President and Mexico Geomarket Director of CGG. Karim told us about the differentiators that make CGG’s GeoConsulting services in Mexico stand out and the challenges the company overcomes to carry out seismic studies for every client.

Karim Lassel, Vice President and Mexico Geomarket Director of CGG

Q: As CGG celebrates its 30th anniversary of activity in Mexico, what has it learned from this long experience?

A: Over the course of the last 30 years we have learned how important it is to be close to the client, to understand market needs and to address them through innovative solutions. Many companies make the mistake of selling a service just because they offer it, and then try to fit the needs of the client to that service. We do not believe that is the way to go; we believe the service should fit the client’s needs.

Thanks to our track record in Mexico we have developed a deep understanding of Mexican geologies and hydrocarbon provinces. Some of our colleagues at CGG Mexico have almost 30 years of seniority. Very few companies can say that. As the Mexican market evolves, we also have the advantage of having younger generations capable of understanding its new needs. Our objective in Mexico is to focus our activities on what really matters for the country, and right now that means cost-effective and value-added products such as multi-client services and offerings.

Q: What differentiates CGG’s GeoConsulting services in Mexico?

A: Through our GeoConsulting services, CGG has developed a series of very specific and specialized workflows that differentiate it from any other player in the market. In addition, we have three main strengths. The first lies in the expertise of our senior staff who are located around the world and on whom we can rely at any moment. The second is our GeoSoftware business line that develops geoscience software tools used by both our clients and GeoConsulting, and that are highly specialized to support the workflows we use to address our clients’ needs. Finally, with our broad, long-standing experience in the Mexican market, we have gathered an inventory of over 250 studies of all the Mexican provinces, from onshore to shallow and deepwater. Six of those studies were multi-disciplinary as they included all the possible data available for those fields and can therefore be considered as major studies.

Those studies were developed for PEMEX, as it was the only company operating in Mexico at that time. Today, the market is open to new companies and we are offering such strengths to them too.

Q: What challenges do you face when offering CGG’s services?

A: In recent years the biggest challenge has been the budget constraints most operators have had. Large contracts have been limited, although we have been successful in winning a few of them. When it comes to more modest contracts, the challenge is still the price, but here the perception of the cost of geoscience services versus fields operations has not always worked in our favor. Interestingly, the value of our services increases if clients look beyond the costs and focus on the benefits. We can compare the value of a geophysical project for the oil and gas industry to the value of an X-ray for medicine. Like an X-ray that shows what is happening inside a human body, a geophysical study provides a clear image of the Earth’s subsurface structure and, for example, where to drill to maximize oil recovery. If we miss that optimal spot by just 500m because the geophysical study was not conducted properly, this can potentially ruin a project, and exponentially increase costs to solve the problem. With this in mind, the critical role our services play in guaranteeing successful operations is obvious and they have become major tools for de-risking E&P activities.

Q: Where in the life cycle of a well or field should seismic studies be conducted?

A: Seismic can provide critical support at almost every stage. Be it in the early stages of the exploration plan, for example, with 2D acquisition and processing to delineate regional trends, or at later stages in the field life cycle, for instance, with high-density and advanced 3D seismic to characterize reservoirs in detail and support asset managers for full field development plans. 

Seismic data are highly valuable assets for an oil field and their optimization can determine whether a project is successful, or not – the secret is to always start with the end-purpose in mind.

Q: How significant is the sub-salt study CGG performed for PEMEX?

A: The sub-salt study we made for PEMEX showcased, once again, our capabilities for handling highly complex projects. We started by conducting a wide-azimuth broadband survey with extra-long offsets to image the sub-salt structures in a complex geological setting. This advanced 3D acquisition technique has already been proven for sub-salt exploration in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The very large volume of seismic data acquired is now being processed in our Houston and Villahermosa subsurface imaging centers. Here again, the techniques we are using are unique and highly specialized to extract all possible information from the entire bandwidth and therefore generate the best possible images at all depths. Our subsurface imaging teams have performed extremely well on this project. A key factor in this success is the fact that the client started the project design with the end in mind. CGG also had the right technical capabilities, the right technologies and the right people to successfully perform this study. Few companies have all these success factors so well aligned, and we are keen to continue performing these types of complex projects precisely because of these capabilities.

Mexico is shifting toward a market that requires ever more sophisticated solutions to solve complex challenges, on the one hand, and, with the entrance of more E&P players, we are seeing increasing market opportunities for multi-client services on the other. CGG is one of the few companies able of offering these complex capabilities, as well as multi-client services.

Q: What are your expectations for your GeoTraining service in Mexico?

A: GeoTraining is our worldwide offering of geoscience courses that can be fully customized to meet our clients’ needs, and also targeted to support our clients in the adoption and usage of our applications and workflows.

For years, we have worked with PEMEX to offer our GeoTraining services, even developing a four-month-long certification process for PEMEX employees that allows them to work on real projects bringing together various disciplines. After the four months, the employees are fully trained in executing an integrated project and leave the classroom with a completed project under their belts. The certification is also useful as the trainees can network with the senior expert trainers leading to knowledge and experience transfer.  

In Mexico, senior staff have a great deal of experience but many junior employees have yet to fully develop their abilities, so we expect GeoTraining and similar services to become increasingly important.

This is an excerpt from the 2018 edition of Mexico Oil and Gas Review. If you want to get all the information, plus other relevant insights regarding this industry, pre-order your copy Mexico Oil and Gas  Review or access our digital copy.


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