Dominique Gehant
Geomarket Director for Mexico

Technological Forefront of Exploration Activity

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 10:16

Last year sowed the seeds for the future of the Mexican oil sector by ushering in a series of structural reforms. 2013 was also a crucial year for geoscience company CGG, with the award of an extension to the dedicated vessel contract PEMEX had awarded the firm in 2009 for multi-year seismic acquisition work in the Gulf of Mexico. The objective of the 2013 project, an extension of the multi-vessel Centauro WAZ (Wide-Azimuth) survey, was to obtain high-quality 3D seismic data in the geologically complex area of the Perdido deepwaters. Dominique Gehant, Geomarket Director for Mexico of CGG, says the Centauro survey – with this latest extension – is believed to be the largest of its kind acquired in proprietary mode in the industry today. “As a result of the Centauro WAZ survey, PEMEX was able to discover oil in the first well it drilled in the deepwater Perdido area,” says Gehant. “This happened approximately 24 months after the start of the survey. This was a record time in the industry, considering the scale of tasks PEMEX was managing on this prospect. These ranged from acquisition of the survey to processing of the data to interpretation and well planning, mobilization and drilling.”

Another important benchmark event for CGG was its acquisition of Fugro’s Geoscience Division in January 2013. This has given CGG a leading position in Geoscience capabilities by strengthening its offering in hightech integrated geology, geophysics, and reservoir characterization services, and allowed it to expand its activities into airborne geophysics (land and marine gravity gradiometry, electromagnetic) and data management services. “We then refocused the company’s activities to ensure a good integration of the new business lines,” explains Gehant. “In particular, our newly created GeoConsulting business line offers a full spectrum of geological and geophysical consulting services. In addition to our seismic reservoir characterization services supported by our Jason and Hampson-Russell software technologies, GeoConsulting offers CGG’s unique line of Robertson geoscience consulting services and multi-client products including a full range of geological, petroleum engineering, and economic disciplines. It also contains NPA Satellite Mapping and all global training services relating to GeoConsulting.” The agreement CGG signed with Fugro also included the creation of a joint venture, Seabed Geosolutions, consolidating CGG’s and Fugro’s resources and expertise in sea bottom seismic acquisition using transition zone equipment, ocean bottom cables, nodes and permanent reservoir monitoring with trenched systems.

Deepwater has become one of PEMEX’s main exploration priorities and Gehant points out the tremendous efforts made in seismic surveys and drilling in the Perdido Fold Belt area. Although its work for the PEMEX dedicated vessel contract consolidated CGG’s position in Mexico by allowing the implementation of cutting-edge technologies, the company sees room for its marine broadband solution, BroadSeis, and StagSeis, its full-azimuth, very-long-offset subsalt imaging solution, to improve exploration. Gehant commented that over a year ago CGG introduced StagSeis in the US part of the Gulf of Mexico where its deployment has yielded successful results in very complex sub-salt areas.

Gehant also reiterated that BroadSeis, yielding up to six octaves of frequencies, has been successfully deployed in a high-density, high-resolution survey over the Ayatsil complex, a heavy oil field being developed by PEMEX. “BroadSeis is a technology in constant evolution and we hope that in the near future we can introduce further enhancements in Mexico, not only for exploration but also for the development of new and mature areas that PEMEX and new players will operate,” says Gehant.

Shale plays are the main focus of CGG’s land acquisition business line in North America where the company has acquired wide-ranging experience. Gehant claims that his company has proprietary techniques that have not yet been introduced in Mexico, mainly because shale gas is still at a very early stage, but that are common in North America and in other parts of the world. “These are seismic techniques that have different objectives to those used in conventional fields. The objective here is to characterize shale plays in terms of organic content, stress fields, and fractures,” Gehant explains, “We want to identify sweet spots and help PEMEX, and other operators in the future, to better position their wells as well as optimize their hydraulic fracking program.”

“CGG is currently offering the widest range of geoscience services in the industry. We are ready, willing, and eager to expand our services in Mexico with cutting-edge technology,” Gehant says. However, the company is still waiting for the Energy Reform to be fully implemented, opening the door for private sector operators in the Mexican market. “CGG will continue to have PEMEX as its main client in Mexico, although new players will appear in the future. This means more opportunities for CGG as demand increases globally in volume. We also believe we´ll see strong demand for high-end technologies to face the growing challenges of exploration in deep offshore and shale areas but also in the development of the new fields being put on stream,” states Gehant. “Additionally, we hope to see the start of reservoir monitoring by repeating seismic surveys, thanks to the socalled 4D technique, throughout the life of a field to help reservoir engineers boost production and improve reservoir recovery rates. This technique has been proven, particularly in the North Sea, where CGG has acquired unique expertise thanks to the breath of its portfolio in geoscience products and services.”