Christian Rodríguez
Mexico Country Manager
Core Lab
View from the Top

Full-suite Core Analysis Leads the Way

By Peter Appleby | Mon, 11/23/2020 - 12:07

Q: How has Core Lab adapted to the industry’s new normal?

A: In the past 12 months, we have only had maybe five months of real activity, going back to the end of last year and into February Core Lab was up and running like normal. The delay over the last 7 months caused not only the projects that had just begun but also the projects that were about to begin to be interrupted completely. Q1 was a pretty active quarter, but the beginning of Q2, of course Q3, and now getting into Q4, it’s been difficult. Luckily, none of our projects were canceled, but were delayed instead, at some point the projects are going to happen. We are starting to see projects pick up again in Q4, it’s only a matter of time before we find ourselves picking up where we left off with projects almost seven months ago. Our main focus in the Mexican market at the moment is in the offshore arena, both shallow and deepwater. We have seen some activity on the onshore side but not a great deal. Nor do we expect to see very much in the next few months.

Q: How does CT Scanning technology offer increased value to operators?

A: CT Scanning is a technology that Core Lab has been pushing around the world. It is well-documented that CT Scanning is a game changer for our sector; it is clearly the way to go for most companies. For this reason, 95 percent-plus of the cores we process for operators request this service. Operators see the value and understand the benefits of this technology. If a company is not scanning their core, it’s a huge mistake. We refer specifically to Core Lab’s proprietary CT Scanning, which we call Dual Energy CT Scanning. Simply put, there’s a mountain of information available, at a reasonable price, with a relatively fast turnaround time, for operators not to take advantage.

We have used this technology with several major companies, including Talos Energy, on the world-renowned Zama field and have obtained great results. Now we are looking forward to extending that service to future operators.

Q: How is Core Lab making EOR and IOR technologies more accessible for operators in Mexico?

A: Enhanced oil recovery has been and will continue to be a necessity for all operators, specifically PEMEX. It is vitally important for the company to invest in this type of project. PEMEX has operatorship on the majority of the underperforming mature fields and we have completed a number of projects with the NOC, whether it is seawater or nitrogen injection, steamfloods, smart water experiments, or any other technique. The technical groups we deal with see the importance and the necessity to find a way to stimulate their wells in order to increase that recovery factor.

The costs involved can appear to be a disincentive for some companies but there’s that old adage that says “you have to spend money to make money”, and that remains true, especially considering the level of maturity of some of Mexico’s fields. Luckily, Core Lab has extensive experience with EOR and IOR techniques worldwide, particularly in the Middle East, where companies have carried out vast amounts of testing. It is important and necessary for us to adapt and introduce those techniques to the Mexican market, not just for PEMEX but for future auction winners too.

Q: What are the company’s most popular new services?

A: One Core Lab service that combines CT Scanning is a technology we have trademarked as NITRO, which stands for Non-Invasive Technologies for Reservoir Optimization. It consists of a suite of non-destructive tests on the core, including Dual Energy CT Scanning, dual-detector spectral gamma and continuous-scanning X-ray. NITRO is an integration of continuous sonic measurements that provide high-definition and rapid determination of critical geological and petrophysical properties on the core. We can supply this to the client well in advance of time-honored laboratory analyses. We have recently introduced NITRO to the market and a few operators in Mexico have already taken advantage of it.

Another new service is RAPID, which stands for Reservoirs Applied Petrophysical Integrated Data. It is a web-enabled data management system that gives operators access to data taken by CT Scanning, NITRO or other lab analyses we performed throughout the project, in a centralized, consistent, easily accessible and secure format. Operators can efficiently organize, archive, retrieve or analyze all of that data. We can upload different types of data onto the platform, such as geological, petrophysical, reservoir engineering, reservoir fluids data. All in a centralized, web-enabled system.  

Q: What is the company’s strategy regarding local content regulations?

A: The local content equation takes into account local capabilities and the employment of Mexican nationals. In regard to local capabilities, Core Lab applies its 84 years of experience to decide which local capabilities we think are imperative to have in each region. Part of this decision involves client feedback.

For example, due to client feedback, we chose to push forward with the installation of a CT Scanner in Mexico much sooner than we originally intended to. We are adding more and more local capabilities so that section of the local content equation grows. Another important variable of the equation goes hand-in-hand with local capabilities.  The more in-country capabilities we have, the more local personnel required. Core Lab fully intends to continue employing Mexican nationals as we have for decades and we are absolutely confident that we will continue meeting each of the requirements for local content.


Core Lab is the leading provider of proprietary and patented reservoir description and production enhancement services. With over 70 offices in more than 50 countries, it offers services to major national and independent oil companies.

Peter Appleby Peter Appleby Journalist and Industry Analyst