Vinicio Suro
Director General
View from the Top

Mexico's Changing Technology Challenges

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 14:37

Q: How would you assess the alignment between the technological needs of Pemex and the research focus of the IMP?

A: We are in the process of establishing a better alignment between the IMP’s research priorities and the technical services the institute o†ers, and the current and future needs of Pemex. One of the crucial priorities is to decide on the measure by which the IMP’s performance is measured. It should not be the same measure used for private sector companies, because they have di†erent goals and expectations. Once such a measure has been established, it will be easier for us to set goals and priorities.

Q: How can the IMP measure the value it creates when it does not commercialize its technological developments?

A: I do not believe that commercialization is a necessary condition for measuring value. What we need are indicators to measure performance, and in this way we will be able to assess the value that we have generated for Pemex. For example, technology we developed to incrementally increase production at mature fields generates value for Pemex, and shows our worth. This should be how we define our value as an institution.

Q: Such technologies are also developed by various international companies. Why should Pemex acquire its technology from the IMP and not from the private sector?

A: I would say the answer is very simple: the market is extensive, and the IMP o†ers services in the same way as other companies. Therefore, the IMP’s technological o†er has to be better than the rest. Our goal should be to compete with these companies to o†er better technology. Sometimes we will succeed and sometimes we will not. We are ready to face that, but the important thing is to remove the distinction between private and public companies, compete in the open market, and to do that the IMP requires an e·cient business model.

Q: In which areas can you generate most value, and where are you planning to concentrate the IMP’s human and financial resources to be competitive in the open market?

A: We need to identify the specific areas and business lines in which we need to work. For instance, in research we are working extremely hard to identify and update technologies in order to produce shale gas more e†ectively in Mexico. The second challenge is how to adapt current technologies in order to produce from deepwater wells. Another avenue of research focuses on how to increase the recovery factor at existing fields in Mexico. In terms of refining, we have a long history of producing catalysts in order to enhance the production of gasoline and diesel. So we have di†erent avenues in which we are competing, and we are competing well.

Q: What have been the IMP’s main achievements in deepwater technology research, and how can these be put to practical use?

A: For the last few years, the IMP has focused on studying current technologies in order to exploit deepwater reservoirs. Besides this, we are exploring di†erent materials in order to perform better in deepwater conditions. At such depths, the water temperature is close to freezing, and new materials can help Pemex to both explore and produce better in these conditions.

Q: How will you support Pemex to make technological choices during the development of deepwater projects?

A: The first area is technology management - which technologies to use and why - and the second is the engineering process necessary to come up with a detailed analysis of all the facilities that are necessary to produce in deepwater.

Q: How do you interact with Pemex to ensure that the work of one aligns with and complements the work of the other?

A: In terms of research, we have a committee in which Pemex participates so we can discuss and approve projects jointly. We also have a technical group that is in charge of setting project goals and monitoring progress towards achieving these goals.

Q: What is the extent of the IMP’s involvement in Chicontepec?

A: In Chicontepec we are in the process of formalizing the conceptual design of a research center focused exclusively on the region. The problems we want to address are very similar to those of shale gas. We are working on drilling and fracking methods and, of course, we are using 3D seismic technology to analyze the elasticity of the rock and calculate the level of fracking needed to improve productivity and reduce capital costs while maximizing oil production. Since the saturation pressure of the fields is very close to the reservoir pressure, and mobility of gas is higher than mobility of oil, the production of oil will be halted. The idea is to develop a secondary recovery method or enhanced recovery method to address this.

Q: How well aligned is your budget to the goals and ambitions of the IMP? How can budget allocation be optimized to achieve your goals and address the challenges the Mexican oil and gas industry is facing?

A: The legal reforms in Mexico in 2006 and 2008 allocated enormous amounts of money to research and development. What we need today is to form new research groups to address the current problems and to complement Mexico’s current scientific capacity. It is not a question of money; it is the focus on the management of that money; the focus on selecting the correct problems to solve, and the management of allocating money and people to the right problems.

Q: How will you convince Pemex that the IMP is capable of taking on the technological challenges Pemex will face in the future?

I would say it is organization; we need to change the organization. We also need to change the relationship with Pemex, which has to be based on the generation of value for Pemex and knowledge for the IMP. The rest relates to the internal organization of the di†erent research groups that will address the important challenges ahead of us. The IMP is a Mexican institution that has been around for over 47 years and has the ambition to transform Pemex and the country. Mexico will only be successful in the development of its oil and gas sector if we address current problems: we need to improve the recovery factor of our fields, develop our deepwater reserves e·ciently, increase production in Chicontepec, optimize value creation, create new technologies, and begin producing shale gas and oil. We have a lot of work to do, but we have the will to do it. The challenge will be to keep up the pace of development.