DOT 2015: PEMEX enters a ‘new adventure’ in deepwater following reforms

Offshore staff

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – The opening plenary session of the 2015 Deep Offshore Technology International conference and exhibition heard Dr. Pedro Silva-López, chief technology officer for PEMEX, discuss Mexico’s “new adventure” in deepwater following the energy reforms that have redrawn oil and gas operations in the country.

His words followed a welcome to DOT 2015 by Dr. Francisco García-Hernández, vice president of Exploration and Production Research, PEMEX E&P, and chairman of the Advisory Board; and David Paganie, chief editor, Offshore magazine.

The first new adventures Silva-López mentioned are the transition of PEMEX into a productive state enterprise and the introduction of competition for permits and licenses from operators outside of Mexico. Before the reforms, PEMEX was the only operator in the country.

A key element in PEMEX operations now is the potential for establishing partnerships with other operators. Silva-López said the new regime would enable PEMEX to address technical challenges presented by deepwater operations, with the support of some of the most technically advanced operators.

Another significant move by PEMEX is its adoption of a new operations model functioning under a “knowledge management” umbrella. PEMEX is expected to put added emphasis on strategic planning, and will also have oversight from the new corporate technical management group. The overall aim is to reduce the time it takes to go from discovery to commercial production. He gave the example of a field that came on production in 2004, 13 years after discovery, and contrasted it with recent subsalt discoveries that came online eight years after discovery.

Other changes in how Mexico will function include the strengthening of state authorities with the establishment of new regulatory agencies and functions, Silva-López said.

He described how the PEMEX technical strategy had developed over time since its founding, and noted that the company was in the midst of a 2013-2017 business plan where technology and related research and development efforts are strategic elements.

Looking beyond 2018, Silva-López said PEMEX would become a world leader in offshore heavy oil exploitation with the support of technology to develop new deepwater Gulf of Mexico discoveries.

The deepwater technological areas that need to be addressed going forward, said Silva-López, include geology and geophysics modeling, especially for strata below the salt; and in flow assurance and subsea facilities design.

In addition to Dr. Silva-López, the plenary session featured a look at Chevron’s worldwide operations and technology development with Mick Kraly, general manager of the Facilities Engineering Dept. for Chevron Energy Technology Co. Kraly showed some of the metrics used by Chevron to track and benchmark its operations. He also said that applied technology is a key enabler in meeting the challenges of deepwater operations.

He noted some of the same influences as those mentioned by Silva-López, particularly the need for technology to make reservoir modeling broadly effective for life-cycle planning, especially in times of price volatility.

Kraly also mentioned a number of other technological advancements that Chevron is looking to implement in deepwater. These include facility reliability, long-distance tiebacks, and drilling efficiencies in ever deeper waters beyond 3,000 m (9,842 ft).

For deepwater and ultra-deepwater, Chevron is focusing R&D efforts on mud lift drilling; use of ocean-bottom nodes for initial and long-term formation definition and management; single-run multi-zone frac packing; and high-pressure seabed booster pumps. Chevron has such a pump in place at Jack/St. Malo, and Kraly said it could be brought online in the next few months, depending on reservoir behavior. Chevron also is interested in the use of dry tree technology in deepwater to increase recovery rates by better managing the reservoir.

In wrapping up his presentation, Kraly also talked about the potential for lazy-wave risers in harsh environments and the prospects for 20,000 psi production management.

Looking further ahead, Chevron is trying to improve reliability with the use of a Machine & Power Support Center that would monitor equipment performance on a daily basis.

Kurt Albaugh, manager of Project Services for Alaska and the GoM for Repsol and an Offshore magazine contributor, told plenary attendees about the status of the Offshore Learning Center collaboration between the magazine and the University of Houston. The aim is to establish a point of knowledge transfer regarding offshore oil and gas operations directed at students and new industry members.

Albaugh noted that the Offshore Learning Center currently has 281 videos, 62 posters, and 19 feature articles in its archives. The videos are divided into six categories, namely Deepwater Projects, Mooring Systems, Subsea Production Systems, Offshore Drilling Rigs, Heavy Marine Transport and Subsea Processing Systems.

The free information can be found at or accessed from the Offshore magazine website.


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