TBY talks to Adan Oviedo-Pérez, Director General and President of COMESA, on business lines, the company's relationship with PEMEX, and the long-term needs of the oil and gas sector.

Which business lines and services are contributing the most in terms of activity volumes to COMESA's operations?

Our main business unit is related to mainly seismic acquisition onshore, although we have also performed jobs in transitional zones and offshore for PEMEX. At present, we represent 85% of the full seismic operation requirements for PEMEX. We have also participated in production and exploitation operations in all fields in Mexico. Actually, we are involved at present in all the main exploration projects and in seven of the 10 more important production projects for PEMEX. Concerning production projects, we are involved in deepwater operations and the Chicontepec, Ku-Maloob-Zaap, and Cantarell fields, providing technical assistance to define the basic concept and tailor engineering to build production facilities in these fields.

What main technologies are you currently using in Mexico, and what impact do they have in the development of the exploration segment?

We have a full crew equipped with state-of-the-art multi-component tools for seismic operations. We are the only Latin American company that has this kind of high-technology equipment. This technological level allows us to collaborate with PEMEX to acquire fresh multi-component seismic data on the main onshore oil fields in Mexico, working to define sweet spots and to increase the recovery factor of these fields. Also, with this new technology we are helping PEMEX to look again at old play areas to deal with reservoir heterogeneity, low gas saturation, and fracture patterns.

“The oil business—both upstream and downstream—is highly influenced by technology."

What infrastructure and technology development are needed in Mexico in order to meet the needs of the oil and gas sector?

The oil business—both upstream and downstream—is highly influenced by technology, and it is necessary to have enough educated, creative, and active people as well as research centers. In addition, as is common around the world, Mexico's growing population will demand additional energy to support the economy. In that respect, Mexico will also require new pipelines and increased capacity for refining and petrochemical activities. To address this issue, Mexico must improve oil-related networks, from government to manufacturing and services companies, as well as invest in people.

How economically viable is having strong public participation in the energy sector?

Every industry needs a continuous flow of investments, especially high-technology industries like the oil industry, to support its operations, and to expand its possibilities of development and its capabilities. PEMEX has the capacity in terms of future investments to provide the amount needed to keep production going at a very strong level. Additionally, PEMEX is implementing plans to explore huge amounts of resources mainly located in deepwater parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Exploration investments were less than required from 1980 to 2000. Since 2001 PEMEX has increased exploration investments. Now, positive results are visible, but PEMEX has a deep gap in exploration investment that must be filled in order to increase the pace and generate true value exploration. Reserves and important resources to be discovered will require higher levels in the near future.

Is a lack of long-term investment planning considered to be the most relevant weakness in the future development of the energy sector?

PEMEX develops plans for 15 years ahead. The history of the petroleum industry in Mexico began in 1904. Around 450 fields have been discovered in the country over the past century. In the last 30 years PEMEX has invested in 60 of them, and this is related to the level of investments that PEMEX, and the oil sector, can afford. To be able to provide sufficient levels of investment, Mexico and the oil sector need to promote fiscal reform to balance the importance of the high percentage of oil activities in government revenues and also promote private investment in the sector. Parallel to this, PEMEX must be able to reinvest a higher part of its revenues to expand its operations.

© The Business Year - October 2011