Subsea Development Strategy for Lakach Gas FieldWed, 01/25/2012 - 15:21
Pemex considered the discovery of the deepwater Lakach natural gas field in June 2006 a great success. It is the fourth-largest non-associated gas field in Mexico. However, almost six years have gone by, and many would argue that Lakach has not yet lived up to initial expectations. Pemex faces some difficulties as it attempts to develop a strategic plan for the exploitation of this field.
The Lakach field, located in the Holok-Alvarado area (approximately 131km northeast of Coatzacoalcos and 98km southeast of the city of Veracruz) in a water depth of 983m, contains two deposits estimated to contain total of 0.9 Tcf of 2P reserves as of January 2012. Pemex’s proposed plan for development of Lakach includes drilling six wells and a subsea tieback structure with dual flowlines that will be placed 55km from the coast at a water depth of 1,200m. Pemex will transport the gas via pipeline to an onshore facility that will have capacity to process 400 Mcf of gas per day. There are many advantages to subsea structures. For starters, pipelines can extend up to 500km in length and allow for subsea gas compression. In addition, both thermal management and simpler installations are possible. An example of a successful subsea tieback can be found at the Ormen Lange field in Norway.
Pemex awarded the technical assistance contract for Lakach to Technip, an international company dedicated to project management, engineering and construction for the energy industry, to help in the development of the design of the field’s production infrastructure. Pemex anticipates an investment of nearly US$1.4 billion for this project from 2011 to 2015. Lakach production is estimated to start around the year 2014, according to a recent Pemex press release.
“The reserves in Lakach are very significant thanks to the size of the field,” Eduardo Camero Godínez, Director General of Exploration and Production at Mexico’s Energy Ministry, says. “At present, Mexico imports natural gas, especially from the United States, and if you look at Pemex’s portfolio, gas is not even competing with oil resources. Nevertheless, there is a big demand for natural gas in Mexico that is not satisfied by Pemex’s production. This is why it makes sense for Pemex to develop a field like Lakach. In addition, Pemex can gain expertise by testing out its equipment in a deepwater field like Lakach before exploiting what could become an even bigger discovery of crude oil in Perdido.”
Lakach will provide Pemex’s first deepwater hydrocarbons production, and it is important for the company to gather the necessary experience and knowledge to continue with deepwater development in the coming years.