Deepwater Development Starts at LakachTue, 01/22/2013 - 17:44
Arguably, the area of development where Pemex has the least experience as of today is deepwater. Even though the NOC started exploring deepwater opportunties as early as 1999, when the Chuktah-201 well was drilled, Pemex is still learning how to develop this type of field. During 2006, Pemex started drilling the Lakach-1 well in waters of 988m, discovering a natural gas field with 1.4Tcf of reserves, which is currently under development and is expected to begin production in late 2014 or early 2015. Emiliano Pescador Asaf, Country Manager for Technip in Mexico, describes the journey so far in developing the Mexico’s first deepwater field.
“Lakach started as a conceptual design,” Pescador Asaf recalls. “The company went through different options when reviewing the development plan for the field and decided that subsea infrastructure was definitely the best.” Several alternatives were considered, such as floating LNG, but the financials of using a subsea infrastructure, and the prospects of having better results through this method, ultimately pushed them to develop Lakach this way.
Pescador Asaf also points to Technip’s subsea expertise as one of the deciding factors in choosing the method for developing the field. “Technip is divided into different regions, and Mexico is part of our North American region, which has its headquarters in Houston,” he explains. “The plan for Lakach is to use all of the expertise Technip has from its operations in the US side of Perdido, and add it to the experience gathered from the acquisition of Global Industries and its offices in Ciudad del Carmen to support s-lay pipelay and shallow water activities in the region. This will make things easier, since the field goes from shallow to deepwater.”
For the development of the front-end engineering stage of the project, Technip used its high-tech engineering company, Genesis, which worked under the direction of Comesa. “Although Genesis is part of Technip, it has the autonomy to operate by itself, which ensures that the EPC stage of the project would be open to be developed by any company with the correct qualifications.” Pescador Asaf recalls.
The front-end engineering stage of the project did not come without obstacles. Technip had to deal with a couple of issues in the project’s development, since the plan was questioned by many of the important players with power in the industry. The project’s assessment did not look to hold sufficiently positive results to justify the investment. “When looking at the numbers expected from Lakach, one can see that it is not an extremely productive project,” Pescador Asaf points out. “However, it still has a positive outcome: it still bears profits for the industry, and, most importantly, it is a very strategic project to start Pemex’s deepwater adventure. Lakach is not very complex, with a good, manageable size for contracting and development.” It will also serve as a stepping-stone for one of Technip’s short-term goals: developing local talent. “We intend to have trained Mexicans in the Perdido developments. We should follow Brazil’s example: they started to develop local content in terms of equipment, but also in terms of talent and, after a few years, Brazilians are exporting human resources to technology projects all over the world,” he adds.
Pescador Asaf believes that Lakach could become a more profitable project if Pemex continues its plan of linking it to other gas fields, and as gas prices increase from the all- time low levels they are at right now. The main importance that the Lakach field holds as of this moment for Pemex is in the expertise the NOC can extract from developing it, and to apply what they learn at future deepwater developments.
The next step for PEMEX in Lakach will be to develop the EPC stage. “Technip is really interested in the contract for the development of this stage, since Lakach has been a strategic project for the company, however, we know it will be an attractive project for other companies so we expect to have strong competition,” Pescador Asaf admits. “Technip wants to help Pemex to obtain the expertise they require in deepwater by bringing the company’s experience gained while working with Shell on the US side of Perdido, and several other deep water developments from the front-end engineering stage till completion.”