Pedro Silva
Subdirector of Technical Resources Management
Pemex E&P
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View from the Top

Introducing New Technology is an Opportunity

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 13:29

Q: What has been the role of technology or the lack of access to the right technology in Mexico’s declining oil production since 2004?

A: For the last few years, production has been more stable, and that is not necessarily because of a certain technology, but because of a combination of technologies and the knowledge and dedication of people in understanding reservoir behavior and controlling the decline. However, technology is going to play a major role in our future oil production because, as can be seen in Cantarell, we are already in the mature stage of production at many of our fields. As a result, we are looking at new ways to stimulate well productivity, understand and control reservoir behavior, and implement secondary and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques. This is going to be really challenging because many of our reservoirs are composed of naturally fractured carbonates, and Pemex does not have much experience with this type of reservoir and the technology associated with it. New technologies for drilling and well completions will also play a major role, as well as technologies to understand the position of water and gas content in reservoirs, and to better exploit oil windows. Technology is going to play an essential role in Mexico as never seen before, because reservoirs are inevitably going to mature and there is a lot of oil still available.

Q: In which ways is Pemex planning to cooperate with the private sector and research institutions to pursue technological innovation that works for Mexico?

A: There is a great opportunity for Pemex to learn from the private sector and exchange expertise; in the end it is going to be a team e†ort. We are looking for the opportunity to cooperate, learn, review technology proposals, try them, adapt them, and eventually use them for the advancement of Pemex and the Mexican oil and gas industry. Pemex today is very open to proposals from companies, and technology cooperation might work quite well as long as Pemex does not interfere too much in the work of its private partners. We have great expertise and technological capabilities in areas such as shallow water, but we are lacking experience in areas such as deepwater and mature fields. To close these technology gaps, we are launching a number of projects where private sector technology providers are working together with research institutions and Pemex, through the Conacyt-Sener Hydrocarbons fund and integrated service contracts, to identify and develop integrated solutions.

Q: What are the main technology gaps that Pemex will try to close via the smart procurement of technology in the coming years?

A: We have pinpointed close to 80 technical challenges in exploitation, and are in the process of prioritizing those challenges. Well productivity, field productivity, mature fields, extra heavy oil, deepwater, and EOR are the areas that we should be concentrating on in the short to medium term.

Q: What do you see as the ideal balance between being technologically autonomous and using external experience and proven technologies in deepwater?

A: The way to go is to acquire the technology from the companies that have the practical experience, and perhaps eventually, if possible, go beyond and establish intelligent alliances with operators that could help us to become technologically independent. I do not think that right now Pemex should be working to develop a particular deepwater technology. The most important decisions to be made today are selecting the right technology partners, and ensuring that all the legal and contracting mechanisms are in place to cooperate e·ciently. Perhaps along the way we might find that some technologies need to be developed, but for the time being there are more than enough proven technologies out there to accomplish our deepwater goals.

Q: Does the current available innovation budget reflect the ambitions you have?

A: Pemex has been given an increasing budget to tackle the growing technological challenges, but to meet Pemex’s immense technological needs we also have the ConacytSener Hydrocarbons fund at our disposal. Additionally, Carlos Morales Gil is promoting technology by pressuring field administrators to measure the relationship between the innovations they are including in their programs and the budget they are assigning to each technology.

Q: What needs to be done to create an innovation focused culture?

A: We need to develop a technology innovation culture in the industry, but also in the country. The Mexican oil and gas industry has been successful for decades because of the natural productivity of the country’s reservoirs. We are trying to increase the participation of Mexican universities in these projects through the the di†erent programs fostered by Conacyt and the Energy Ministry projects, but it is important to note this is a nationwide problem, not one unique to Pemex. If we can make this shift and become champions of innovation, we could set an example for the country.

Q: Some people in the industry might question the fact that Pemex is determined to become a technology leader. What would you say to these people?

A: Give us a chance to try. We have the need, the desire, and the will to do it, and we have lots of oil still remaining. The average recovery factor at Mexico’s fields is still below 20%, which is extremely low in comparison to industry standards, so we need to do something and we need to do it now. We are working with companies in order to develop research projects to innovate and develop technologies, to create a technology innovation culture in Mexico, and become the main engine of development for the country.