Pemex Signs Deal to Use BP's Well-Capping Technology in GOM

Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, signed an agreement Tuesday with oil firm BP PLC to share technical information about emergency well-capping in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, with BP offering Pemex the benefit of lessons learned following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and response, the two companies said in a joint statement.

The agreement will allow Pemex access to technical information to build, operate and maintain well-control systems in deep waters that were developed by BP, the firms said.

The announcement comes as Pemex ramps up its exploration efforts in the deep waters of the Gulf, where the oil monopoly has limited experience and no production. Members of Mexico's watchdog National Hydrocarbons Commission have insisted that Pemex take steps to deal with the possibility of having to control an oil spill in deep waters.

Prior to BP's months-long oil leak from a deepwater well offshore Louisiana in 2010, Pemex's nearly year-long oil spill at the Ixtoc 1 exploratory rig in 1979 and 1980 was considered the biggest Gulf spill to date. The Ixtoc spill occurred in the shallow waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico and some oil eventually reached the U.S. Gulf coast, despite months of attempts to prevent it from doing so.

In the joint statement by the two oil firms, Pemex exploration and production director Carlos Morales said the agreement was part of Pemex's "ongoing efforts to help protect the rich Gulf of Mexico environment in which we operate, as well as to apply state-of-the-art technology as we develop Mexico's deepwater oil and natural gas resources."

BP eventually controlled the 2010 oil spill, unleashed by a blow-out that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig and killed 11 of its crewmembers, by stemming the flow of oil with a 100-ton submarine cap, then drilling a so-called relief well that intersected the leaking well and flooded it with cement. BP now has a similar deepwater cap ready to be deployed anywhere in the world--and it is sharing its knowledge of how it built it with Pemex.

Pemex agreed that if it made any future advances to the technology that it would share them with BP at no cost. BP retains the intellectual property rights, "so it can continue to share the plans with others," the statement said.

BP also agreed to conduct workshops in Houston for Pemex and to introduce Pemex specialists to key vendors that BP used to develop its global deepwater well cap and tooling package.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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