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Pemex considering exploring unconventional resources in case of policy shift

Highlights

Company could drill in Tampico-Misantla basin

Tampico-Misantla with over 30 billion boe

Over 60% of Mexico's reserves in unconventional deposits

Mexico City — Mexico's Pemex is considering exploring the Tampico-Misantla basin where there are vast untapped unconventional resources, in case the country were to change its current energy policy that neglects them.

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The National Hydrocarbons Commission on Dec. 8 approved exploration plans presented by the state owned oil and gas company that includes, under an incremental scenario, drilling in mature onshore fields that are known to hold vast unconventional resources.

Pemex, under the current administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has opted to halt all activity in deepwater and unconventional areas to focus on shallow waters, where it can more easily find crude.

Pemex is looking to raise its crude output by roughly 300,000 b/d from current levels to 1.9 million b/d by the end of the year, and to 2.4 million b/d by 2024 to become self-sufficient in fuels.

The plans approved on Dec. 8 acknowledge the potential of the Tampico-Misantla area and consider their exploration if the government policy were to change, CNH technical advisor Rodrigo Hernandez said during the session. According to Mexico's energy Secretariat (Sener), the prospective resources in the country are roughly 113 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe), over 60% of which are unconventional.

According to CNH data, the Tampico-Misantla basin has prospective resources of over 32 billion boe.

"It is desirable that Pemex explores those areas with huge potential, as the country needs those resources," said commissioner Sergio Pimentel during the session. Commissioner Pimentel has consistently highlighted the need for Pemex to increase its exploration activities, alone or with a partner to secure the resources of the future.

The approval was the latest in a recent string of approvals from CNH, which is trying to catch up with pending processes after the coronavirus forced the closure of government offices during the first months of the pandemic.

During the session, CNH commissioners also approved exploration activities from Mexican operators Operadora Bloque 12 and Newpek, which hold contracts in onshore fields. Operadora Bloque 12 is controlled by Grupo Carso, owned by Carlos Slim, Mexico's richest man. Newpek is controlled by the Mexican Stock Exchange-listed conglomerate Alfa SAB.

CNH also approved exploration works presented by Malaysia's Petronas for its shallow-water block under contract CNH-R02-L01-A6.CS/2017, where the company will spend up to $113 million. Finally, the Commission approved modifications to production plans presented by Mexico-based Diavaz, for its Ebano field, where the company plans to invest over $1 billion through the life of its 30-year contract.