Pemex wants seismic survey of Perdido belt in gulf

Mexico's Pemex has requested to conduct 2D seismic research in some 514,370 sq km of the Gulf of Mexico, calling in particular for a survey of the Perdido belt, which straddles the US-Mexico maritime border.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, June 19 – Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has requested to conduct 2D seismic research in some 514,370 sq km of the Gulf of Mexico, calling in particular for a survey of the Perdido belt, which straddles the US-Mexico maritime border.

According to a report filed with Mexico's official gazette, the Diario Oficial, Pemex estimates at least two oil fields straddle the border in the Perdido region and could be exploited from wells on the US side, if Mexico does not move forward with development on its own side.

Pemex says it needs to find 500,000 b/d of new oil production from deepwater fields by 2021 to maintain more than 3 million b/d of total crude output. It needs to find these resources soon because deepwater projects can take up to 10 years before being brought on stream.

Lacking facilities
Pemex lacks the facilities to drill in waters greater than 3,000 ft and is seeking permission to obtain additional investment from the private sector to keep pace with needed developments.

Last week, Compania Mexicana de Exploraciones director Adan Ernesto Oviedo said Pemex needs an additional $2.5 billion a year of investment in order to produce an estimated 100 million bbl of oil in deepwater deposits.

Oviedo told El Universal that sustained investments of $80-120 million in deepwater wells would bring the first results in the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, there is an acrimonious debate in the Mexican Congress over a bill aimed at reforming the Pemex charter to allow for incentive-based service contracts to attract international oil companies into projects in the gulf.

In May, Mexico launched a 71-day debate on the disputed oil reform proposed by President Felipe Calderon, a move which opposition believes aims to privatize Pemex. Legislators are among the groups debating the values that are to govern the energy reform in Mexico.

In debates earlier this month, Pemex appealed for more flexibility to invest in deepwater exploration but gained the support of just one of the three main political parties.

Other parties brought in Mexican geologists who argued for Pemex concentrating on exploring the country's shallow waters and other onshore areas before it focuses on deep waters.

One oil engineer said there were 40 potential oil fields yet to be probed and exploited by Pemex, and this is where the company's efforts should be concentrated.

But Pemex's head of exploration and production, Carlos Morales Gil, disagreed. "Moving into deep waters is not something that should be a matter of choice. It is an obligation," Morales said in the televised meeting with lawmakers. "Mexicans have to understand that the age of easy oil is over. Pemex needs the reform," he added.

International turn
Debate over the future of Pemex took an international turn June 17 when the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) delegated Canadian lawyer Steven Shrybman, a trade specialist, to take part in a series of public events to be held this week in Mexico.

Coordinated by North American energy sector unions and their civil society allies, these meetings will underline that Mexico is "threatened" with losing its energy sovereignty and a vital source of revenue for public services and social programs.

"In this period of energy insecurity, the last thing to do is to give up key resources to American multinational corporations. The loss of Pemex would impoverish Mexicans and create a precedent that would be dangerous for public and state stewardship of energy resources in North America," said CUPE National Pres. Paul Moist.

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