Baker Hughes primes reservoir characterization before going all-in with its entire technological arsenal in a given reservoir. In order to do so, the company has expanded its scope of analysis techniques by forming an alliance with seismic connoisseurs, CGG, and by acquiring geomechanical experts GMI. This has boosted the company’s ability to acquire and interpret seismic and geomechanical data. Seismic data analyses assess the reflection of elastic waves on the subsurface to interpret the composition, fluid content, extent, and geometry of rocks in a reservoir. On the other hand, geomechanical data analyses deal with the rock’s interaction with stresses, pressures, and temperatures, uncovering the best drilling locations. Baker Hughes’ executives believe that the company now holds a considerable competitive advantage over some other oilfield service providers when it comes down to mature fields and shale formations. The company’s executives are convinced that workover operations that include new data analysis could help Mexico meet its production targets, not only in the mature fields that might be included in future licensing rounds, but also in fields such as KMZ, Cantarell, Tsimin-Xux, and Ayatsil-Tekel. Geological analyses could also help identify the targets and the types of development wells to be drilled.
Artificial lift products provide another way to further extend the producing life of reservoirs. The deployment of electric submersible pumps (ESPs) can expand production significantly, according to Baker Hughes. ESPs are pumps that usually operate at 3,500rpm: they are metal diffusers designed for higher flow rates. Typical ESP use starts at about 1,000b/d and can go up to 100,000b/d. They work with a downhole motor with the potential to maximize current production at existing wells. PEMEX is currently using around 100 ESPs overall, but this is less than 10% the amount of ESPs used by certain large oil producers. Baker Hughes’ executives explain that the factors limiting the use of this production technique in Mexico include a lack of infrastructure to supply the necessary power, inability to handle increasing production due to infrastructure restrictions, and distrust of the reliability of ESPs. One opportunity to expand the use of ESPs in Mexican offshore fields would be through partnerships with companies that produce turbines to feed them. However, PEMEX is already investing money in laying submarine power cables, which could prove useful in feeding the ESPs in shallow water fields. The next step would be to expand separation and water reinjection capabilities, which could help expand the production prospects of fields such as Cantarell and KMZ. For wells and fields with lower flow rates and higher viscosity fluids, progressive cavity pumps (PCPs), which are driven from the surface and are composed of a stator and a rotor that operate at lower rpm, could serve as an alternative solution.