Developing Chicontepec to Its Full PotentialWed, 01/22/2014 - 09:52
Mexico’s Chicontepec paleochannel is the largest hydrocarbon deposit in the country. According to CNH data, the basin holds approximately 38% of the country’s 3P reserves. For this reason, the area is set to play an important role in Mexico’s hydrocarbon production in the following decades. However, according to Leonardo Meneses Larios, Associate Director of Exploitation of CNH, the Chicontepec project is at a rather early stage in terms of the available knowledge of the geology and the optimal drilling and production technologies, resulting in great uncertainty surrounding production forecasts and volumes. “As more technical information is incorporated into cropping models, seismic 3D, core samples, geophysical records, imagery records, special records such as magnetic resonances and mineralogy, fluid samples, and laboratory studies, more understanding of the paleochannel will become available,” says Meneses Larios. “To address geological challenges, it is important to integrate structural studies of Chicontepec’s complex fields, including distribution, spacing, and orientation of the existing faults. It is equally necessary to do detailed studies on the sedimentary model in turbidites and to strengthen the information available on the field’s petrophysical characteristics.”
Meneses Larios says that PEMEX is using various strategies in the development of Chicontepec’s complex fields. “From my point of view, the most successful method used has been the implementation of field laboratories. Service companies, which have contributed to the basin’s development by introducing different technologies through their field labs, played a significant role in driving this approach.” However, Meneses Larios comments that the success of the field labs should not be measured in terms of drilling and production metrics; they should instead have evaluation systems to measure the success of technology implementation.
Meneses Larios has some recommendations for how to develop Chicontepec to its full potential. First, he says it is necessary to accurately define the investment costs and implementation times for technologies that are to be either developed or tested. Meneses Larios notes that in spite of the complexity entailed in similar basins, there have been plenty of successful experiences at the international level. “Chicontepec should be managed according to international best practices, borrowing strategies from comparable projects in order to establish an optimal development plan and exploitation strategy. Once this is achieved, it will be possible to implement the optimal technologies on a large-scale basis,” Meneses Larios suggests. He also mentions particular elements to be considered, such as making the distinction between conventional and unconventional wells when planning field development, maintaining well pressure, and improving secondary recovery processes. Once the learning stage is over, Meneses Larios recommends reviewing reserve volume estimates, production forecasts, and economic assessments. “It is possible to extract significant volumes of hydrocarbons from Chicontepec, which highlight the importance of this basin in the country’s future oil and gas production, regardless of whether PEMEX or private operators will be in charge of this operation,” he concludes.