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Maintaining a Production Plateau

Félix Alvarado Arellano - Ku-Maloob-Zaap
Pemex Administrator


Tue, 01/22/2013 - 14:12

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Q: In 2010, Pemex announced that Ku-Maloob-Zaap was entering its most productive stage and would probably maintain the same production levels for three years. What is your target for the coming years?

A: Ku-Maloob-Zaap represents one third of Mexico’s oil production, and for the third year in a row we have been able to maintain a production plateau of around 850,000 b/d, and we are expecting to continue like this until 2017. After this, inevitably, the production of Ku-Maloob-Zaap will decline because of the natural depletion of the complex.

Q: What are the main obstacles to maintaining a production plateau of 850,000 b/d at Ku-Maloob-Zaap?

A: The greatest obstacle has been the acquisition of drilling equipment to maintain a steady production. Even if we do not have access to the planned drilling equipment, we still have to operate the same number of wells. However, to maintain a steady production of around 850,000 b/d we have adopted an operational philosophy based on the application of reservoir management best practices, establishing and using specific measurements and criteria to manage production limits per well, regional production, reservoir pressure maintenance through the injection of 630 million cubic feet (17,839,613.4m3) of nitrogen, and with an exhaustive field monitoring campaign to make real-time decisions in the exploitation of the different fields. Another challenge in maintaining a production plateau is the fact that we do not have control over exploration activities at our field; Pemex Exploration & Production manages all exploration activity, and it is not until the field has been developed by the field development division before it moves to the control of the Ku-Maloob-Zaap Administration.

Q: To which extent is the experience at Cantarell being used for the identification of production technologies and strategies that could be successfully implemented at Ku Maloob Zaap?

A: The lessons learned during the lifecycle of Cantarell inarguably have served as a platform for the identification of new technologies not only for application in Ku-Maloob- Zaap, but for the whole Northeast Marine Region. However, we have only adopted technologies that fit the specific geological and technical needs of our complex, such as nitrogen injection, after doing specific studies on the economic and feasibility of the technology for Ku-Maloob- Zaap. Furthermore, we have created a specific document for the reservoir management of the Northeast Marine Region, where we describe in depth all the tools and technological practices used in each field and how they can contribute to optimizing production and increasing the recovery factor and maximizing value generation at Ku-Maloob-Zaap.

Q: What technologies or processes will play a major role optimizing production, increasing the recovery factor, and maximizing value generation at Ku-Maloob-Zaap?

A: As part of Ku-Maloob-Zaap’s development strategy we are planning on introducing and implementing the following technologies and processes: (1) management of crude in three phases: short, medium, and long term with regard to well control using water injection, segregation of humid currents and dehydration within wells, and desalinization in offshore and onshore wells; (2) smart well completions that will allow us to reduce maintenance costs by placing opening and closing systems that are controlled from the surface; (3) injections of residual gas into the reservoir to increase the recovery factor by 2% while at the same time obtaining operational flexibility of gas management; (4) long-term enhanced oil recovery projects, with an emphasis on the injection of carbon-dioxide (CO2).

Q: How do you overcome the challenge of maintaining the production plateau without affecting the reservoir’s long term production prospects?

A: The fields in the Ku-Maloob-Zaap complex are hydraulically anticline structures connected through a common aquifer. Oil and gas is stuck in the upper part of the reservoir and the lower part constitutes the aquifer. Due to this, we maintain a strict policy of not reducing the pressure in any of the interconnected reservoirs in order to avoid reducing changes in pressure in one reservoir that could potentially affect the rest. Under this strategy, it is possible to analyze and manage each reservoir, always taking into consideration temperature and pressure, as well as the level of contact between water and oil, and gas and oil.

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