Luis Ferrán
Director General
The Mudlogging Company
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View from the Top

Feeding PEMEX Crucial Geological Data

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 08:42

Q: How does the strategy of The Mudlogging Company sit alongside Pemex’s key technological challenges?

A: The strategy of our company is divided. We recognize that on the one hand, Pemex will slowly migrate to incentivized contracts, but on the other hand, it will remain the only operator in the country. Our strategy is to work alongside Pemex to meet new technological demands in the areas that are aligned with our core competences. We have experience working in the Burgos basin, Poza Rica, Veracruz and Villahermosa, and so we will focus our business here. In these areas, we have an obligation to bring in the latest technology either through acquisition or by developing it ourselves.

The knowledge I am talking about is the knowledge of the reservoir and its geology. For example, we know precisely how the Burgos basin environment behaves, and how the environment in Villahermosa behaves. Both geologies are very dierent, but because of our experience we know what Pemex will require over the next few years at these fields, and have the obligation to utilize whatever technologies can be applied to these fields. For the private companies that will help Pemex increase production through the incentive-based contracts, we will approach them and oer them our services.

Q: Over time, The Mudlogging Company has extended its geographic reach beyond the Burgos basin. What were the main challenges of moving from a natural gas producing region to geologically diverse oil reservoirs?

A: Every new area is a challenge. The company as it stands today was born in 1998, but we worked through another joint venture from around 1985. Our expertise was developed in the Burgos basin; we became familiar with the reservoirs there, and developed techniques to provide solutions there.

When you move from a dry gas producing area to an oil producing area it is a big move, not only because of the type of hydrocarbon that is produced, but also because of other factors like the depth of the well, and the temperature and pressure of the reservoir. So we needed to adapt ourselves in order to utilize the best instrumentation, and more importantly to train people properly. We have found very talented people in Mexico who just need to be provided with enough information in order to adapt themselves to new scenarios. Moving from one area to another is always a challenge, but facing that challenge with good personnel, good instrumentation and ongoing training, we hope to provide the service that Pemex is expecting.

Q: How has The Mudlogging Company built on its core business in Mexico over the years?

A: The Mudlogging Company has a very established niche, but in the oil industry, any niche gives you the opportunity to expand to others. For example, we started with basic mudlogging services – defined by the geologic sampling analysis in real-time at the well – to provide certain parameters to the drillers in order to enhance the safety of their operations. It also provides the client enough geological information during the drilling stage to have a good understanding of the reservoir before completing the well.

Defining this as a basic service meant that the next step was processing the information gathered and providing interpretations based upon it. Then, during the last five years, as computers and communication became more rapid and more available to the industry, we implemented more real-time interpretation, real-time transmission, engineering decisions, and visualisation services, which are more of the consulting and interpretation type.

Q: One of the jobs as a mudlogger is to monitor gas levels in a well. Which contribution are you making to the safety of the drilling process?

A: Mudlogging services in a broad scope are divided into two major areas. One of these areas is safety. Part of our mandate is to monitor gas levels from the rig. Gas comes from up the reservoir, so we detect the level of gas from the reservoir to the rig. Not only that, but we also detect gases that can be poisonous to personnel, such as hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which can escape during drilling. The other component of our job is to acquire all possible information from the borehole in real-time in order to know what is down there in terms of the reservoir and contribute to the final interpretation of the reservoir. Both of these activities are equally important to our partners.

Q: Many international oilfield service companies operating in Mexico are now providing their own mudlogging services. What is your strategy to compete?

A: We recognize that the major oilfield service providers have been in the process of integrating more services into their portfolios in recent years with the goal of providing as complete a service as possible for their clients. As a result, we have been talking to several companies, and we hope for integration of our service with similar services from other companies in the near future. We will soon be able to make synergies with companies, which will create more value and provide more complete services.