Vinicio Suro
Director General

IMP’s Approach to Shale Gas Development

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 11:09

The Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP) is making progress in acquiring seismic information on Mexico’s shale gas areas Limonaria, in the north of Veracruz, and Galaxia, near Piedras Negras, Coahuila. Vinicio Suro, Director General of IMP, is pleased to say the institute is identifying the shale horizons in the subsurface of these regions based on high quality information. IMP is obtaining multicomponent seismic data by working with COMESA in Limonaria, and with Geokinetics in Galaxia. “A common approach to shale developing reservoirs is indiscriminately applying brute force, drilling as many wells as possible with the extended horizontal reach going as far as possible and fracturing generously. This method has not yielded optimal results so far, with statistics showing that 30% to 50% of fracturing operations do not cover their costs due to low production rates,” says Suro. Many elements in this situation need to be understood from a scientific perspective. IMP’s approach consists of adding many sources of information, such as the S-Wave, in order to more accurately estimate the mechanical properties of the formations.

Currently, IMP is working on answering questions regarding the methods it will use to better understand the shale formations. “We constantly find ourselves asking if we are going to be able to determine oil saturation from seismic data or if we will have to use seismic correlations with other data in order to make inferences about the location of sweet spots. We are trying to work on issues the industry has not addressed for different reasons, mainly because it does not have the time to think about them. We are carrying out some very interesting projects with the participation of young and forward-thinking researchers,” details Suro. He claims IMP’s research division has both the time and the critical skills required for these endeavors. “We are quite critical about our current operations and we believe we have to do more science in order to minimize CAPEX and environmental impacts.” Suro suggests looking at shale operations north of the border to get a glimpse of the strategies that have resulted in successful operations, while also recognizing that Mexico has its own endemic problems that need to be solved. “We are engineers, therefore, we do not place moral judgments upon the operations of other parties. Instead, we perform technical judgments about other parties’ activities. By doing so, we can create projects focused on improving operations. It is vital for IMP to identify opportunities to create value. For instance, reducing drilling operations or fracking activities by 25% would result in great savings for operators. If we can achieve that or start working in this direction, it would mean that IMP is making a great contribution to the development of the Mexican shale industry and PEMEX in particular,” Suro concludes.