Ernesto Ríos
Director General
Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP)
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View from the Top

The Technological Arm of Mexico´s Oil and Gas Industry

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:09

Q: What are the main collaborations between IMP and PEMEX, and in which ways does each institution benefit from their relationship?

A: The Mexican Petroleum Institute originated from PEMEX, and the collaboration is defined by the five decades during which the Institute has provided scientific and technological support to PEMEX. We have carried out innumerable research and technological developments for the NOC in order to solve various technical complexities that emerge in the production chain and the processes related to the transformation of hydrocarbons. The decades during which we have provided our services have benefited not only PEMEX, but also the state.

As part of the collaboration between PEMEX and the IMP, we could mention diverse projects that originated from technological requirements at the NOC, which was seeking to improve well productivity, increase recovery factors, characterize wells’ formations and fluids, improve techniques to interpret seismic information, develop new abilities in deepwaters or in shale resources, process and transport extra-heavy crudes, and improve the production of clean fuels. We have also helped PEMEX in areas such as industrial safety, operative improvements, engineering, and the formation of specialized human resources. In other words, during these decades, IMP has been PEMEX’s right arm when it comes to technology, as well as its strategic partner.

Q: How will the opening of the oil and gas sector impact the Institute’s activities and the services it offers?

A: The entry of new players in the Mexican oil and gas industry will open a great window of opportunities for IMP, as research and technological development are crucial to generating economic, environmental, and social value. In the new scheme, IMP must continue working on generating new capabilities and assisting PEMEX, but we will also be able to offer our services to private players and provide technical support to the oil and gas industry’s regulators. The scientific knowledge on the hydrocarbons value chain the Institute has obtained throughout its existence will enable it to advise players and develop new skills that will boost the sector.

Q: What abilities allow IMP to collaborate with regulators like CNH or CENAGAS, and what main lessons have you learned from these endeavors?

A: IMP provides human resources, products and services, strategic design, technical assistance, research, and intellectual property, among others. These are the capabilities that have attracted the new governmental agencies to work with us. We have recently signed an agreement with CENAGAS to support the natural gas sector. This agreement aims at performing various joint actions in strategic design and institutional architecture, engineering, technical diagnostics, skill development, and technical assistance, mainly in terms of inspection, maintenance, and pipeline integrity. We will also work to ensure the reliability of natural gas storage, transportation, and distribution systems.

In addition, IMP signed an agreement with ASEA in order to provide technical support to the agency in the design of the regulations and regulatory frameworks for the industry, as well as the development of human capital, in line with the best international practices. It is worth mentioning that IMP designed an inspection program for ASEA, from which 60 inspectors had graduated in May 2016. We consider that this program is relevant to overcome the current challenges in Mexico’s energy industry and to ensure the exploitation of technological resources and ensure sustainability in key areas such as industrial safety and environmental protection. We also maintain a close relationship with CNH and the new operators that have won tenders from Round One, among others.

Q: What is the role of the IMP in providing support to the supply chain in order to generate technology while creating national content?

A: As a national institute, IMP is present across the entire hydrocarbons value chain, creating national content through research and developing its own highly competitive technologies. These are in line with the industry’s needs and are based on innovation and the creative talent of the institution’s employees, which support the transfer of knowledge to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the industry. It is important to mention that during the institute’s 50 years of experience, it has registered many patents, national and international, becoming the institution that patents the most in Mexico.

Q: What are the main focus areas of the IMP in the exploration and production area?

A: The integral methodologies, technologies, and solutions that IMP has developed for exploration and production have contributed to PEMEX’s success, and this will also be the case for the new participants in Mexico’s national oil industry. These solutions include various operations in unconventional reservoirs from the evaluation of oil resources, the design of the well for its exploitation, and the development of technologies for real-time monitoring of hydraulic fracturing. In addition, the Institute has carried out evaluations of the leftover oil in naturally fractured carbonated reservoirs by using an integral solution, which includes technology, tracers, petrophysics, and samples of cores and outcrops. Finally, we have worked on multistep hydraulic fracturing, which consists of real-time monitoring of hydraulic fracturing and oil production, as well as the saturation of residual oil, for which we evaluate the remaining oil in naturally fractured reservoirs, using an integral approach and enhanced oil recovery methods, among others.

Q: Which technologies and processes were developed by the Institute during your participation in the aforementioned areas?

A: The technological services offered by the IMP have been linked to the solution lines in hydrocarbon potential evaluation and reserve incorporation, as well as in evaluation, and the training of human resources. Some of the technologies we have developed can be found in the market and are commercialized both at the national and international level. These include technologies to increase well productivity, chemical products (anti-foams and anticorrosives), and devices for wells with a high incidence of oil and gas. Our technologies have been tested in over 520 PEMEX wells, and in certain cases we obtained production improvements in gas of 2.472bcf/d and of 6,600b/d in oil.

We recently tested a technology for enhanced recovery using microbial processes, which resulted in an oil production increase of 22%. The technologies used to characterize the reservoir’s oil have been applied to at least 25 wells, using methods based on X-ray tomography. Likewise, we successfully used the chemical products developed by IMP in fields such as Akal, Ku-Maloop-Zaap, Samaria, Angostura, and Jujo-Tecominoacán, among others.

The differentiated technologies developed by IMP for exploration and production have succeeded in reducing the risk and uncertainty in the reserve incorporation process. They have generated strategic information that our clients use in when deciding where to allocate investments in exploration projects. This was facilitated by IMP personnel, who have extensive experience in the oil and gas sector and deep knowledge of the country’s geology. That is how our clients benefit from the IMP’s knowledge and experience in Mexico’s oil and gas environment. Our technical consultancy services and competitive pricing allow for better decision-making within our clients’ companies, helping them to become more sustainable in the exploration and production segment in Mexico.

Q: How will IMP continue participating in the development of Mexico’s deepwater segment?

A: IMP will continue participating in the development of Mexico’s deepwater segment. The Institute will play a key role, as the Deepwater Technology Center that will be inaugurated this year will carry out related research and provide cutting-edge technological services to public and private players in the oil and gas industry.

The Deepwater Technology Center was built using resources with the Hydrocarbons Fund from the Ministry of Energy and CONACYT, as well as IMP’s own resources. Located in Boca del Rio, Veracruz, its goal is to increase knowledge that will serve in the design, development, and operation of deepwater and ultra-deepwater fields in the Gulf of Mexico. In its initial phase, the center will have sixlaboratories: Technology Qualifications, Flow Assurance, Meteocean and Hydrodynamic Phenomena Numeric Simulation, Drilling Fluids, Well Cementing and Completion, and Geotechnics and Floor-Structure Interaction. The Deepwater Technology Center will also focus on preparing skilled talent and creating methodologies and solutions for hydrocarbon production.