From the Corralillo Field Lab to the Soledad Block

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 09:52

Given its inconsistent geologic features from one kilometer to the next, Chicontepec has proven to be a puzzle for the world’s most acclaimed industry experts. PEMEX started working on the field several decades ago, and after several different strategies, which in recent years included tendering field labs to leading oilfield service providers and a third round of integrated service contracts (ISCs), the field continues to yield well below its potential. Baker Hughes have tried its hand at raising production through its field lab in Corralillo and at the Soledad block that it was awarded in the third round of ISCs.

After operating three years in Corralillo, Baker Hughes managed to increase production from around 2,000b/d to a maximum of over 13,000b/d. However, according to the company’s executives, the highlight of its work there was helping PEMEX develop its understanding of the different geologic characteristics and geomechanics across Chicontepec. Baker Hughes’ operation in Corralillo helped in breaking paradigms about Chicontepec, say its executives. The company managed to drill wells that yielded an initial production of over 1,000b/d, which was unheard of in the area until a couple of years ago. This proved to PEMEX that by doing its homework in thoroughly analyzing the well, much higher rates of production could be achieved. Baker Hughes used tools for reservoir analysis in combination with specialized fluids for fracturing similar to those used in shale reservoirs around the world. Additionally, the company used its FracPoint technology on completion operations for multi stage fracks.

Once the field lab contract expired, Baker Hughes returned Corralillo to PEMEX, along with the information and results it had achieved. Based on the results achieved in Corralillo, Baker Hughes decided to make a bid for the Soledad block in the third round of ISCs. The Soledad block was producing 3,400b/d of light oil varying from 32°API to 37°API and 8.1mcf/d of natural gas in June 2012. Even though the company recognizes both fields to be very different, Baker Hughes saw correlations between the needs of this block and its 500 wells, as well as those at Corralillo.

Baker Hughes’ executives view it as a very mature field that can “prove it still has a lot of life left.” As Baker Hughes takes the field over from PEMEX, the company is looking at how to maximize production from a large number of wells that have been producing for several years. During the first two years of the contract, Baker Hughes’ team will focus on quick hits to increase short-term production. To complement this strategy, the company will also start workovers on certain wells using its own fracturing technologies. It will take advantage of its chemical product line to enhance production, while changing certain artificial lift methods to maximize production. At the same time, Baker Hughes’ specialists will carry our exploration surveys to get a better understanding of the area’s subsurface characteristics and identify key areas for additional drilling operations. Once this initial period is completed, Baker Hughes will have 30 years to maximize long-term production.

Baker Hughes’ main objective is to become a partner of choice for PEMEX in the development of Chicontepec, building on its performance in Corralillo. The company wants to expand its reach as a service provider in any other region of the paleochannel of Chicontepec where PEMEX might need help. Given the similarities between the technologies that could prove fruitful in Chicontepec and those required to develop Mexico’s shale oil and gas in the north, Baker Hughes would also like to participate in this market.

While shale exploration has not moved as fast as Baker Hughes’ executives would have hoped for, they believe in the potential leverage of their expertise gained in the Eagle Ford Shale and the Bakken Shale across the border. The company sees a lot of opportunities to maximize production by optimizing drilling and completion efficiency once shale hits a stage of mass development. Even though its management is aware that the shale segment has not yet progressed to the point where its technologies can be tested in Mexico on a large scale, they are eager to bring some of the technologies to Mexico. Promising results have already been achieved with the FracPoint completion technology and Baker Hughes thinks these results could be magnified once FracPoint is applied to shale. The company has also invested a lot of money on nanotechnology for unconventional resources, which could be brought to Mexico. Baker Hughes’ INTallic Frac Balls consist of nanotechnology material that dissolves when exposed to the appropriate fluids in order to accelerate the fracturing process. This technology has already been used in the US and in Argentina, on the development of the Vaca Muerta field, where results have shown to be promising. On the fracturing side, the company’s viscoelastic technologies used in Corralillo could be applied in the development of shale resources. Finally, on the drilling side, Baker Hughes is actively seeking to bring the AutoTrak Curve technology from the US, where it has already been used to drill wells totaling 12 million feet. In general, all of these technologies could allow PEMEX to drill wells faster and more efficiently, as well as streamline the completion process when the mass development stage of shale occurs in Mexico.


Baker Hughes managed to increase average production from 2,665b/d in 2009 to 12,315b/d in 2012. This production boost was driven specifically by Baker Hughes’ focus on understanding each different reservoir’s geological conditions to outline a customized plan with tailored technologies. Specific well evaluation and analysis, as well as proper technology selection, was key in achieving success in Corralillo, according to Baker Hughes.


Discovered in November 1943, the Soledad block contains the Aragón, Ahuatepec, Agua Nacida, Gallo, Palo Blanco, Coyotes, Soledad, and Soledad North fields. As of June 2012, the block kept producing light oil varying from 32°API to 37°API at a pace of 3,400b/d and gas at 8.1mcf/d. Its total production adds up to 39 million barrels of oil and 5.7bcf of gas, while it is expected to have prospective resources of 73 million barrels of oil and 226bcf of gas. The fields in the block hold 34.1 million barrels of oil and 55.3bcf of gas as 1P reserves and probable reserves (3P) add up to 85.8 million barrels of oil and 201.1bcf of gas.