News Article

Perdido Drilling Finally in Progress

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:31

The most anticipated discovery in the recent history of the Mexican oil industry was finally announced during the third quarter of 2012. While the Perdido area had long been a prospective source for hydrocarbon resources, rumored since the discovery of oil on the US side of the border, nothing had been confirmed regarding Mexico’s potential until August 29th, 2012, when Pemex announced the discovery of light oil at Trion-1. “The operations that we have undertaken in the Perdido area are product of the effort of many people over many years,” says José Antonio Escalera Alcocer, Subdirector of Exploration at Pemex E&P. “The exploration process in the new areas takes from five to 10 years to yield any outcome and today we can feel proud as a team for the results we have achieved.”

The successes at both Trion and Supremus, where light oil discovery was announced on October 5, 2012, are already in the rearview mirror for Pemex. The NOC knows that in order to produce another successful year and to eventually compensate for declining production at other fields, it needs to discover additional hydrocarbon reserves and put these into production. “We have to keep drilling the prospective fields that we have already identified,” stresses Carlos Morales Gil, Director General of Pemex Exploration & Production.

While Trion and Supremus amount to around 625 million bbl in the best-case scenario, Perdido is expected to have around 10 to 13 billion barrels of total reserves. “After Supremus, the next step is to drill Maximino-1 and PEP-1, for which we have huge expectations,” says Escalera Alcocer. “If we end up being successful at those two fields,” Morales Gil announces, “we will need to hire additional rigs for deepwater.”


2013 will be crucial in defining the outlook for deepwater, and Perdido will definitely constitute a make-or-break case for Pemex in terms of accomplishment in the segment with the plan to drill six new deepwater wells and to start field development operations in both Trion and Supremus. “We first need to assess the reserves at the discovered fields, drill delineation and appraisal wells, and start planning the conceptual development phase,” Morales Gil explains. “Questions still have to be answered about the strategies for the development of Trion and Supremus, especially those regarding the number of wells to be drilled and the infrastructure needed. FPSOs are being considered, while the other option will be to connect to the US pipeline system at Great White.” In order to settle upon the second alternative, political agreements, as well as business deals with US companies, would need to be struck.

“We have the target to drill up to six wells in deepwater during 2013, and, even taking into consideration a potential dip in our success rate we expect to uncover production possibilities from two or three of them,” explains Escalera Alcocer. The six wells that Pemex is expecting to drill at Perdido are Maximino-1, PEP-1, Basto-1, Exploratus-1, Pelagus-1, and Alaminus-1.


The Perdido project, the most technologically advanced ultra-deepwater project in the world, developed by Shell in collaboration with partners BP and Chevron, is located 354km away from Galveston, Texas, and sits very close to the Mexico-US maritime border. The project comprises a spar production facility, which exploits three fields: Great White, Silvertip and Tobago. All three are located in what is known as the Perdido Folded Belt in the northwest section of the Alaminos Canyon outer continental shelf. The water depth in the region ranges from 2,300m to 3,000m, some of the deepest waters in the Gulf. Oil production has already commenced at Perdido, breaking the previous water depth production record by over 50%.

Shell operates the Great White field and holds a 33.34% stake, while Chevron and BP each hold a 33.33% interest. Silvertip is 60% owned by Chevron, while Shell participates in the field with the remaining 40% interest and is the operator. Tobago completes the trio of fields at the US side of Perdido. The field is 32.5% owned by Shell, with Chevron holding a 57.5% interest and Nexen holding the remaining 10% interest. Development of the fields began in July 2007, using a production spar rather than a more traditional tension leg platform (TLP). The three topsides of the platform support oil and gas processing units, living quarters for 150 people and a drilling rig. Subsea development of the fields began soon afterwards. Production began at the end of March 2010 from five wells at the Great White field, with all wells expected to come online by 2016 and produce 100,000 b/d and 200 bcf/d. The total cost of the project is estimated around US$4 billion.