Gustavo Hernández
Subdirector of Planning and Evaluation

Burgos Basin: Center of Natural Gas Production

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:47

Located in northeast Mexico, Burgos has historically been the country’s main producing natural gas asset. The 120,000km2 area, delimited under the commercial name Burgos Integral Asset, reaches out across almost the whole northern region of the state of Tamaulipas, and some regions within the states of Nuevo León and Coahuila. It is bounded by the US in the north and the Gulf of Mexico in the east, while covering 34 municipalities within the aforementioned states (12 in Tamaulipas, 12 in Nuevo León, and 10 in Coahuila).

Since the year 2000, Burgos has yielded an average 22% of the country’s total gas production and 60% of the country’s total non-associated gas production, averaging a 1.27 bcf/d of production. This amounts to more than double the production of the Macuspana-Muspac asset, which is the other important region for the production of non-associated gas.

Two of the four Mexican basins that produce non-associated gas are included within the Burgos asset: Burgos basin and Sabinas basin. The first stage of the development of the Burgos basin goes back to 1945, when the Misión field was discovered. Production kept increasing steadily and, after inaugurating the Reynosa Gas Processing Complex in 1956, the basin’s production reached a peak of 620 mcf/d, driven particularly by the Reynosa, Monterrey, and Francisco Cano fields. Exports started to decline in the early 1970s as Burgos experienced steadily decreasing production levels. However, the development of fields in the Sabinas Basin gave the asset a second period of elevated production, averaging 560 mcf/d during 1979. Production went through another decline until January 1993, when it fell under the 200 mcf/d limit.

Following the internal structural change of Pemex in 1992, and the ensuing reallocation of budgets, Pemex E&P decided to turn its sights to exploration in the Burgos Basin, performing 3D seismic surveys to determine the amount of potential reserves. This led to an increase in the volume of natural gas reserves for the basin. New drilling designs and well completion solutions were developed to further streamline the new stages of the project, thus reducing the overall exploration and production cost for the field. All of these factors steered Burgos towards a new period of prosperity, starting in 1994. Production rose at a faster rate, with the Arcabuz-Culebra, Arcos, Cuitláhuac, and Corindón-Pandura fields leading the charge. The discovery, identification, and development of the reserves within these fields were key in the continuation of Burgos’ productive profile. In addition, the multidisciplinary team philosophy, implemented through specialized consulting, and the investment injection that the basin received in 1999, helped to break the 1bcf/d production milestone. This level of production remained constant at the asset for the next four years, through an intensive drilling program complemented with well repairs and maintenance. Drilling e·ciency continued to increase consistently, while more advanced operationing practices and new technologies were implemented at the asset: the concept of reservoir engineering was introduced around 2003 to boost productivity, reaching production levels that represented almost one quarter of the country’s total natural gas production.

Between 1997 and 2010, 26,967km2 of 2D seismic were acquired along with 26,787km2 of 3D seismic, while 342 exploratory wells and 3,917 development wells were completed. The infrastructure at Burgos includes a pipeline network that extends for 2,037km with 228 di†erent pipelines and 3,791 discharge lines that cover a 9,621km length. An additional processing plant was built in 2004 within Burgos, known as the Burgos Gas Processing Complex, which increased the asset’s wet gas processing capacity.

Burgos is also important for Mexico from a socioeconomic perspective. By 2011, Pemex E&P had generated 75% of the 6,939 direct jobs in the region, while total indirect jobs added up to 21,926, of which 95% were awarded to Mexican people. Pemex has strong views in this regard. “We are a socially committed company,” says Gustavo Hernández, Subdirector of Planning and Evaluation for Pemex E&P. “We still need to produce in Burgos, which employs around 29,000 people. We are not a private company that can lay o† employees to increase the profitability of our projects.”