Luis Moncada
Vice President
Baker Hughes
View from the Top

Optimizing Production at Chicontepec

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:22

Q: What have been Baker Hughes’ main contributions to the improved drilling performance in Chicontepec?

A: We have been working in one of the five field labs that Pemex assigned to different companies in Chicontepec – the Corralillo Lab – and if you look at the statistics, our lab has been the most successful. The main contribution Baker Hughes made to this success is the great relationship we have with Pemex that enabled us to cooperate as an effective team. However, our real contribution is shifting the focus to production optimization based on obtaining a better understanding of the geology and geomechanics of the reservoirs in our field lab and identifying better drilling targets to increase productivity. In the end, we are breaking paradigms, since we now have wells that are producing over 1,000 b/d, which was unheard of a couple of years ago.

Q: What are the most successful technologies you have applied to optimize production at Chicontepec?

A: It was the combination of understanding the geology and geomechanics of the field and utilizing directional drilling, well completion technologies, multistage fracking, and other fracturing techniques. In essence, through fracking we open up the formation to obtain the highest production from the fractures. The effectiveness depends on the location; fracturing does not guarantee increased production, and making 20 fractures does not mean that you are going to get 20 times more production. The fracture has to be strategically located to be successful.

Q: How are you mitigating the water related problems associated with fracking in Corralillo?

A: We are currently working on a design to minimize the amount of water that is used, and recycling the water that flows back from the well. Once we have reduced the amount of water that is needed to fracture and are able to recycle or reuse this water, we will be able to completely mitigate this problem. In the past, we have used reinjection for disposal in the US, but we have not done so yet in Mexico. Our priority is recycling so we can use the fracture water in other wells. In the US, a lot of arguments are made against fracking, based on concerns about contamination of the water table. We need to make sure that there are enough barriers between the well and fresh water reservoirs in order to prevent them from being contaminated. In essence, we have to establish a good cementing job and make sure those zones are isolated before actually fracturing a well.

Q: What are your ambitions to use your field lab experience in fields to be awarded in the third integrated service contracts round?

A: Our technologies will be available for the companies that will be awarded those blocks, regardless of whether we are participating as an operator through a joint venture with a Mexican company or with an international company that is interested in coming to Chicontepec, or even if we are not the direct operator of one of the fields. We will be more than happy to work with the operators to implement some of the same technologies that we applied in Corralillo.

Q: How can Pemex leverage the lessons learned through the field labs at Chicontepec and apply these at its operations in other fields?

A: I think the lab concept has been a very successful way for Pemex to test different technologies. Even in marine areas, similar concepts could be used to test different technologies to increase production, after which Pemex can contract with different companies based on the results of those tests. Pemex is moving into a new phase in Chicontepec with the introduction of integrated service contracts, which will attract new companies with different methodologies to drill and operate those fields. Pemex can learn a lot from having different companies focusing on different areas. Pemex could expand its activities at Chicontepec as a means to increase production through competition.

Q: Companies operating field labs share their findings with Pemex but not with other field lab operators. Is this a missed opportunity to accelerate progress?

A: We all share our information and technological findings with Pemex, so in the end Pemex does benefit from all the interaction even though there is no direct communication between the service companies. But on technical forums there are opportunities for the sharing of best practices and lessons learned from those applications.