Guillermo Dominguez
Association of Mexican Petroleum Engineers (AIPM)

Mexico's Call for International Technology Cooperation

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 11:13

“We are trying to be more open to the idea of international cooperation, but not all of our members agree with our strategy,” says Guillermo Cruz Domínguez Vargas, President of the Asociación de Ingenieros Petroleros de México (Association of Mexican Petroleum Engineers - AIPM). The association watches out for the interests of petroleum engineers, geologists, geophysicists, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers and civil engineers working for Pemex, Instituto Mexicano del Petroleó (Mexico’s Petroleum Institute - IMP) and Mexico’s universities. “Some of our members have strong ties to history. Many of our members, some already retired, are against the change. However, Mexico has to be more open to the idea of having more companies from abroad - whether Canadian, US, South American or European - because Pemex just has too many things to do. As an association, we must help them to have the intention to be more open to receive companies from abroad. Many of our members are against the integrated service contracts because they think that Pemex can do everything by itself, but I do not believe that to be the case.”

Domínguez Vargas, who is also a Commissioner at the CNH, says that the question of where Pemex most needs international technology is simple to answer: “Deepwater, definitely. They might also need technology in mature fields and shale gas, as well as in enhanced oil recovery, both in mature fields and fields like Ku-Maloob-Zaap.” The CNH Commissioner and AIPM President gives the example of Pemex’s own assessments regarding technology adoption and those of the international industry to explain that, despite what it thinks, Mexico needs help from foreign partners. “I worked at Pemex for 34 years and only a few horizontal wells were drilled in this time. If you look at the industry abroad, some of the fields have been developed by only drilling horizontal wells. Pemex says that they have a lot of horizontal wells, but they really only have a few.”

Although the AIPM is jointly responsible for organizing the annual Mexican Petroleum Exhibition and Congress, an event that brings international companies to the Mexican market every year, he believes that it should be more a concern of Mexico’s larger oil and gas players to develop relationships with international companies for technology transfer. Regarding development of a long-term plan for Mexican companies to strengthen technological capabilities by working alongside international technology providers, Domínguez Vargas says, “There is a lot that the CNH, Pemex and IMP can do. I do not like the idea of bringing in international companies to apply their technology without any kind of partnership at the local level, because that strategy does not leave anything behind for the Mexican people. The best option would be collaborations that include a stipulation regarding national content and technology sharing. These type of arrangements lie within the reach of Mexico’s larger petroleum institutions.”

Eduardo Camero Godínez, Director General in charge of Exploration and Production at Mexico’s Energy Ministry, echoes the views of Domínguez Vargas regarding the need for Pemex to learn from companies with international experience in terms of technology development: “It is part of Pemex’s optimization process to investigate where and how other companies have previously developed expertise, and how it can attract these companies. From here, both Pemex and the industry as a whole have to develop on their own. The industry needs to see the alternatives and what the cost would be of developing its own technology.”

Domínguez Vargas thinks a new generation of engineers in the Mexican oil and gas industry will also be instrumental in the adoption of new techniques and technologies from international companies. Younger engineers may be more familiar with or open to new techniques. He explains that one of the priorities for the AIPM is to help train both generations within Pemex; from the young generation, the older can learn about new technologies and international best practices, and from the older generation, the younger can gain an indepth understanding of the particularities of the Mexican oil and gas industry. “People are retiring from Pemex and they are not leaving anything behind for the new generations. One of the roles of AIPM is to encourage some of these experienced people that are already retired or about to retire to teach and become mentors to the younger generation of Pemex. At the same time, the younger generation has the opportunity to become the catalyst for international technology cooperation,” says the AIPM President.