Mexico’s bidding rounds opened the doors to previously unexplored areas both offshore and onshore. According to Oscar Roldán, former Head of the National Data Repository at CNH, around 130 exploratory wells are scheduled to be drilled following the latest rounds.
On the first day of the Mexico Oil and Gas Summit held at the Sheraton Maria Isabel hotel, speakers on the panel Inside Mexico’s Exploration Activity, moderated byRoldán, agreed that Mexico is a greenfield in terms of exploration activities. “We are excited about the opportunity Mexico presents to the global industry,” said Adam Seitchik, General Manager of Exploration and New Ventures at Murphy Oil. “Offshore exploration, in particular, is unique in Mexico and it was very sought after in Rounds 1 to 1.3.”
The country has become a hotspot for exploration and there are still many areas to be explored. According to Alejandro Scheffler, Commercial Director of Schlumberger Mexico and Central America, years ago IOCs did not have Mexico on the radar. However, the country is now in many of Schlumberger’s clients’ prospects. “It is not only offshore. Onshore exploration is also attractive, especially after the Ixachi discovery in 2018,” he said.
Exploration, however, entails risk and while some projects may be immediately successful, others may not be. According to Seitchik, the best way to mitigate risk is by generating and analyzing information to identify the best opportunities. “There is a learning curve and we need to take advantage of the information generated at all drilled wells,” he said. Rossy Pérez, General Manager Mexico of Beicip-Franlab, highlighted Mexico has invested in data generation for the most important fields in the country to get the best results and, according to Scheffler, the country is among those with the most data to make decisions regarding well planning and development.
Naturally, when drilling exploratory wells, there may be some that turn out to be unsuccessful. However, these ventures should not be dismissed, according to Scheffler. “Even unsuccessful wells can generate important data for future decisions through the necessary investment in data collection and analysis,” he said. James Buis, District Manager Mexico of Nalco Champion, added that analysis of early samples can help to understand the investment needed to reach a successful production design.
There are still areas to be explored, both offshore and onshore, and according to Buis, there might be still ore surprises like Ixachi, especially considering the untapped opportunities in Mexico’s Gulf of Mexico. “Companies think Mexico is a very explored country but that is not the case,” said Roldán.
The oil industry in Mexico is mature but there are areas, especially in the north part of the Gulf of Mexico, where advanced infrastructure and technology are needed to support deepwater and shallow-water projects, according to Scheffler. “Companies have focused on the Perdido belt but mostly on the US side,” said Seitchik. “However, geology does not stop at country borders. The Salina basin offers great opportunities but it has barely been tapped into as a subsalt area.”