David Pring
Country Manager
PGS
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View from the Top

Rollercoaster Demand for Seismic in Mexico

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 13:54

Q: CNH and SENER will allow private companies to conduct multi-client seismic surveys in Mexico. How does PGS intend to capitalize on this new market?

A: This allows us to start multi-client services in Mexico. The multi-client model in itself offers oil companies better value for their money in some aspects, so many companies are waiting to come and run multi-client surveys under these new rules. Obviously, not all of them will be successful, so the strongest offering will likely result in the highest sales. Overall, CNH’s plan is very interesting. The situation will also get clearer when CNH releases its five-year plan. Once we can anticipate which blocks will be offered in what zones, we will position our survey services to help clients acquire the data they will need. Therefore, our short-term struggles due to the lack of activity are somehow sweetened by a positive long-term outlook.

The indications are that many players, especially those who will eventually win blocks, will want to reprocess existing seismic data. That could be very positive for us as we have developed a deep understanding of the local Mexican geology. Certain winners will take the data for processing to Houston or London as they have always done, but as more exploration companies set up shop in Mexico, they will look for local experienced partners. National content requirements will also stand us in good stead. Although these requirements do not specifically target seismic, companies will view spending their money in Mexico as the right thing to do.

Q: What are your expectations for the changing balance in PGS’ clientele between PEMEX and the private sector?

A: It is going to be a very gradual change as PEMEX will continue to be our main client for several years ahead. However, the projects themselves will change. Instead of the very large exploration surveys done in the past, we will see smaller, more focused surveys requiring more expertise. This is because we will essentially be looking at seismic for reservoir development as opposed to large-scale exploration. Large surveys will still be required in the unexplored deepwater areas but more detailed exploration is needed to move forward in field development. We also hope to see the demand for 4D seismic pick up. That technology has not developed around the world as much as some predicted, but it is still a huge area of opportunity. We already offer that service and we are keeping an eye on potential areas that could benefit from this technology. Secondly, some of these deepwater reservoirs that are very expensive to develop and produce could benefit from having seismic monitoring done from the outset. This is a new technology that has never been applied in Mexico, but economists in oil companies should be looking into it. There are obvious benefits of planning a reservoir’s development based on findings beyond what comes out of the well. It is obviously a very useful tool.

Q: How will your experience on the US side of the Gulf help operators reduce risks and costs when exploring on the Mexican side?

A: Our experience on the US side of the Gulf can be directly applied here in Mexico. Although the Mexican geology is more complex in certain ways, some of the new techniques that we are using would be absolutely applicable here, especially on the acquisition side. Most innovative processing techniques and algorithms are tried out and tested in extreme conditions throughout the Gulf of Mexico and PGS rapidly follows these innovations. As soon as something works on the US side, we will seek to bring it across the border.

Q: What are the advantages for an NOC or IOC to contract out its geophysical studies to a company like PGS instead of doing them in-house?

A: Some companies simply contract their geophysical studies out because they wish to focus on their core business and see seismic acquisition or processing almost as a commodity. However, for in-depth processing, we take on a far more interactive way of working. We are constantly engaged with our clients as interpreters of the data. Other companies have their own processing centers in-house. It largely depends on whether they view these studies as risky. If so, they may well seek to do them inhouse to control the risk. If they view studies as routine or if they do not have the required resources and expertise, they will call companies like PGS in to help.