Perspectives on ChicontepecWed, 01/25/2012 - 16:57
Gustavo Hernández García
Chicontepec should be considered an unconventional reservoir due to its complex geological formation, says Gustavo Hernández García, Sub-Director of Planning at Pemex E&P and President of CIPM. “As a result of starting to view the field in this way, we are starting to change the story of Chicontepec. In the last year, we have managed to increase production at Chicontepec by over 50%, mainly as a result of better operational practices. We are learning a lot from the field’s five field labs, both in terms of technical field details and best practices being used by the companies working there.” Hernández García says that some of the most important best practices to be learnt from these international companies are operational. For example, Tecpetrol, one of the companies operating a field lab, works in three eight-hour shifts rather than two twelve-hour shifts. “This change means that they could pay more attention to the wells. Adopting this change within Pemex meant changing union regulations and going against established practices, but once this was done, we started to see major improvements in daily production.” Hernández García says that the idea faced some opposition from within Pemex because of the number of extra employees that would have to be employed at Chicontepec, but the results from Tecpetrol were enough to eventually prove the merits of the plan. As well as operational changes, Pemex has also changed the technologies used at Chicontepec. Implementing automation at the wells at Chicontepec has been important simply because of the number of drilled wells in the region. In 2010, each well was only measured on a bi-monthly basis. Today, these wells are measured every 15 days. By 2012, Pemex hopes to be able to monitor all 2,000 wells every other day. “We hope this will bring big changes to production levels at Chicontepec – with better monitoring, we can start to optimize production at the wells. It is like checking up on a patient in a hospital,” says Hernández García.
Luís Vielma Lobo
“If Pemex didn’t understand that Chicontepec is a very complicated reservoir before, they certainly do now,” says Luís Vielma Lobo, Director General of CBM Exploration and Production. “A complex reservoir demands complex solutions. It is impossible to fully exploit a complex reservoir with technology for simple reservoirs, and if you try you will find yourself with extremely low recovery factors. Pemex’s top management now understands this, and is dealing with the reservoir with the right attitude: looking for the technology and processes that such a reservoir requires. It is going to take time, but I have no doubt that they will now start to increase their recovery factor.”
Vielma Lobo believes that one of the best fields against which to compare Chicontepec is the Spraberry field in West Texas. After 60 years of production at Spraberry, operators achieved a 60% recovery factor. Even today, production is still economically attractive. Vielma Lobo believes that the lessons learned by operators at Spraberry are vital to Pemex’s best exploitation of Chicontepec: “First, Pemex needs to fully understand its reservoir. Each 100m2 of surface area needs to be designated as its own reservoir area. Then Pemex needs to understand the geology of each of these: how permeable the area is, and the nature of its fracturing. Based upon that information, it should be decided where in the 100m2 Pemex should drill. Recovery factors will not be improved if well spacing is at 400m; it needs to be closer to 20m, which was done at Spraberry. “Another important thing is to learn about fracturing. Everybody does hydraulic fracturing in the oil industry with dierent purposes. In these complex fields, you have to use fracking for a very particular purpose, which is to extend the flow spacings.”
Eduardo Camero Godínez
“We know that the oil is there and that the resources are very significant. We just need to figure out an economically viable way to develop those resources,” says Eduardo Camero Godínez, Director General of Exploration and Production at Mexico’s Energy Ministry. He believes that success hinges on a combination of technological breakthroughs, and that Pemex’s field lab venture will eventually yield the necessary results, if and when the trial is expanded to the whole region.
Camero Godínez says that companies operating field labs at Chicontepec will be able to parlay their experience into attractive bids when Pemex oers incentive-based contracts for the field. The tender launch is expected to be announced in the first half of 2012. “These companies are subject to less risk, as they have a working understanding of the field, and they have developed special techniques in their narrow areas that might be extended to the whole field. On paper, it’s a very good idea to give companies access to a portion of the field in order to develop techniques to stimulate production. In some cases, it may be proprietary technology or techniques, but in some other cases, it can be just a breakthrough that other companies can replicate,” Camero Godínez says.