Adán Ernesto Oviedo Pérez
Director General
Comesa
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View from the Top

Mature Fields Create Operatorship Opportunities

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 16:04

Q: Which organizational structure would be most suitable for Pemex to optimize production across its diverse portfolio of onshore and offshore reserves, and in which areas can Comesa make the greatest contribution?

A: Mexico has an inventory of around 450 fields resulting from more than a century of exploration. Over the last 25 years, Pemex has focused its investment only on the 60 largest fields. That means there are more than 350 smaller fields that have been forgotten for a long time. Integrated service contracts are a solution for these mature fields. At the same time they enable Pemex to concentrate on fields like Cantarell, Ku-Maloob-Zaap, and Tabasco’s main onshore fields, which right now account for 80% to 90% of Pemex’s production. Pemex must maintain control of these projects.

envisage three dierent models to approach oil and gas opportunities in Mexico: mature fields run through integrated service contracts by small companies, based on technology and grounded in cost management; Pemex running and driving its traditional projects onshore and in shallow waters; and new partnerships for deepwater projects [see graph below]. In addition to these three dierent business areas here in Mexico, internationalization could be the fourth development opportunity for Pemex in the years to come. However, Pemex already has enough reserves and a huge amount of resources to discover in Mexico. The company doesn’t need to move abroad to prove itself to the rest of the world, but international operations could expose young Pemex engineers to dierent business culture and practices in order to manage the future in the country.

Comesa is involved in at least three of these opportunities: in mature fields as a potential operator or service provider; in current production fields providing new seismic acquisition and processing and well planning; in deepwater exploration through technical assistance for the engineering of new production facilities.

Q: What are the main steps that Comesa has to make to qualify as a potential operator in mature fields under the integrated service contracts?

A: We are supporting Pemex in moving forward with the new integrated service contracts for mature oil fields, and we will participate as soon as we are able to operate a small field onshore, preferably in the southeastern part of the country. This will be a dicult task but we have been working hard for the last few years in order to bring the necessary skills and capabilities into the company, and to make strategic alliances that will complement Comesa’s execution capabilities. Comesa is determined to select the right partners for strategic alliances, and to become our partner, a company must be experienced, have a good reputation in the industry, and be a technology leader in its field.

Small operators will be more successful in operating mature fields, since they are obviously focused on managing costs and incorporating the right technology to solve the specific problems of each field. Comesa is very flexible and could move easily and quickly in selecting the most suitable technology for mature fields and entering into alliances to apply this technology. Since we are smaller, Comesa can be focused on operating a specific field.

Pemex is supporting us as we are developing the required capabilities and skills, both in-house and with third parties, in order to provide these services. The main complementary skill that we must develop is related to well drilling operations. We have signed an alliance to provide workover services to Pemex, and step-by-step Comesa is developing these kinds of capabilities. We already have strong capabilities in subsurface analysis, and we are building strategic alliances with companies that have experience in enhanced oil recovery, ultimate recovery and artificial lifting. Pemex needs skills in artificial lifting, enhanced oil recovery, steam injection and electrocentrifugal pumping, and during the next two years we will be focused on putting together a complete skills set to provide Pemex with integrated services that generate added value for Pemex and accelerate the decisionmaking process.

Q: Given your ambition, why did Comesa not obtain the bidding rules for the first round of integrated contracts?

A: At the moment we are supporting Pemex to successfully assign the first round. For future rounds, Comesa will be ready to participate. We have been dealing with a lot of companies that are bidding and many of them are asking Comesa to provide services when they win the bids.For now, we are testing the water to see what kind of companies are interested and we are sure that we will be able to provide all of them the basic services related to seismic acquisition, processing and interpretation in order to support their plans in those fields.

Our main purpose remains being a reliable service supplier and strategic partner for Pemex, and we will continue to provide both E&P services and pure exploration services, meaning seismic acquisition and processing services, to Pemex.

At the same time, we are aware of opportunities in Latin America and one of the main objectives of our business plan is internationalization. We are looking for activities in Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil and Peru. We selected Colombia as the most attractive country to start our international activities, and right now we are processing some vintage seismic data for some operators in Colombia in our processing centre in Villahermosa. Initially we will look to work with local companies.

Q: What is your perspective on the development of the Mexican oil and gas industry and the future of Pemex?

A: The industry and the world have changed a lot in recent times. For instance, the Middle East today is completely different to the way it was two years ago; shale gas is a revolution in the industry and arctic exploration is on its way World energy demand will increase, so fossil fuels will play a key role in supplying that demand, regardless of alternative energy source developments. Mexico has a lot of potential in terms of hydrocarbon resources, both conventional and non-conventional, as well as clean energy sources. To create value for generations to come, Pemex is pushing to provoke the changes required to move faster to monetize these opportunities. I envisage an increasing level of activity in the Mexican oil and gas industry.