Improving Mexico’s Research Facility for Deepwater DevelopmentWed, 01/21/2015 - 23:09
Q: How has IMP bolstered its knowledge of deepwater exploration, planning, and field development since 2008?
A: IMP collaborated with PEMEX in the FEL I and FEL II planning stages of Lakach, during which all the technical and economically feasible production options for the field were identified. During FEL III, PEMEX opted for tie-back to the coast, and IMP has continued participating in the development by supervising the engineering phase of EPC contracts. IMP has also participated with PEMEX E&P in the planning and development of new deepwater fields, where the conditions demand the use of specialized technology. We get involved because the delivery times and costs of these technologies have a direct impact on the initial production dates for these fields and on the investments to be made there.
Q: What are the technological and operational deepwater challenges with which IMP can help future field operators?
A: IMP has the ability to conduct research projects and provide technological services in deepwater. Between 2005 and 2012, we carried out technology assimilation projects with leading technology suppliers, both for subsea and floating systems, as part of the Deepwater Field Exploitation Program. Since 2008, IMP has sought to identify possible synergies in new fields, optimize new infrastructure, give economic viability to projects, and maximize the value of reserves.
Q: What recommendations has IMP made to PEMEX to maximize field value in deepwater operations through technology selection?
A: IMP has been carefully supporting PEMEX in identifying technically and economically feasible options so that it can make the right choices concerning field development. This analysis has been so exhaustive that highly innovative technologies have been considered, such as the option of producing liquefied natural gas on-site through floating liquefied natural gas systems (FLNG). It is important to mention that the world’s first FLNG is still under construction by Shell.
Q: Which criteria are used to evaluate the suitability of FPSOs, TLPs, spars, and semi-submersibles in Mexico’s deepwater fields?
A: So far, the evaluation of different floating systems has been done according to specific technical and economic aspects. The technical criteria include water depth, meteorological and oceanographic conditions, the deck’s ability to host the equipment needed to reach the target production, and the structural and dynamic performance of other floating systems used in similar conditions. Investments and manufacturing times are taken into account, as well as the estimated date of first production, so we can judge when the investment will begin being amortized. As for tie-back to the coast systems, the economic and technical viability of incorporating subsea separation systems as an alternative way of removing liquids and solids prior to transporting hydrocarbons in ducts has already begun. Regardless of the system chosen, domestic manufacturing should be favored in the short term, as this will decrease delivery times and boost national content.
Q: What deepwater capabilities and in-house expertise make IMP an attractive R&D partner for both PEMEX and the private sector?
A: IMP’s deepwater experience allows it to identify the risks and possible consequences of planned infrastructure for the fields. These skills will continue to be at the service of PEMEX, although we will also examine opportunities to support new operators. Our involvement at the operational stage of Lakach can also be applied in the development of other EPC projects in deepwater. Furthermore, in order to satisfy the requirements of the national industry, IMP is building the Deepwater Technology Center in Veracruz, where research projects will be carried out to solve problems specific to the Mexican oil and gas industry.
Q: Do you anticipate commercializing IMP’s deepwater expertise through products and technologies that are optimal for Mexico’s deepwater environment?
A: IMP’s value to deepwater developments lies more in the development of human resources, its knowledge gained from conducting projects, and its experience in field planning. These skills should ideally be transferred to the right entities to help provide solutions to problems the industry faces. After all, the experience IMP has gathered in deepwater projects is limited when compared to that of large operators.