GEO ExPro

Mexico: Major Gulf Oil Find

In the final months of his presidential term, Mexican President Felipe Calderon proudly announced that state-owned PEMEX has made its first big crude oil discovery in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
This article appeared in Vol. 9, No. 5 - 2013

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Lying in 2,500m of water, the Trion-1 wildcat lies 39 km south of the US-Mexico maritime border and 180 km east of the Gulf state of Tamaulipas. Preliminary estimates suggest in-place reserves of up to 400 MMb of light crude.

The new discovery lies in the so-called Perdido Foldbelt of the Gulf and, according to Calderon, Mexico’s Perdido complex of deposits could hold between four billion and 10 billion barrels of crude. He said PEMEX is entering into a new phase of oil discovery in the Gulf, where reserves are estimated at 27 Bbo. The success comes after a decade of deepwater exploration where investments have exceeded US$ 4 billion, prompting the country’s regulator, the National Hydrocarbons Commission, to criticise the company, saying it was devoting far too much capital to risky exploration. The discovery underlines the view that the deep waters of the Gulf are likely to provide PEMEX with rising oil production after eight years of steady decline.

However, it is also certain to intensify the debate over further opening of PEMEX and Mexico’s petroleum resources to private investment. Proponents have argued that PEMEX needs private investment from companies to fully develop the country’s petroleum potential. Succeeding Calderon, President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto has stated that he will amend laws to allow private companies to invest with PEMEX but such moves have encountered stiff opposition in the past. One likely development option is a possible tieback to Shell’s Perdido facilities located on Great White Field across the maritime border.

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