Pemex Finds Heavy Oil Near Promising Ayatsil Field

Dow Jones Newswires

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones Newswires), May 21, 2009

Pemex said Wednesday it drilled three promising discovery wells during the first quarter of 2009. A good start, but not enough to reverse the fortunes of the struggling state oil firm.

Pemex, as the company is known, is ramping up exploration spending to correct decades of underinvestment and stabilize production, which has fallen by a fifth since 2004.

One of the discoveries, the Tekel-1 well, found heavy oil near Ayatsil, a field discovered last year that Pemex expects to produce around 150,000 barrels a day by 2012.

During a meeting with journalists, Pemex CEO Jesus Reyes Heroles said the well, by itself, will add 100 million barrels of oil and natural gas reserves.

"It confirms the extension of the Ayatsil field," he said. "Ayatsil is very promising."

The other two successful wildcat wells were on land in Tabasco, a traditional oil zone just inland from the oil-rich Campeche Sound.

One of the wells, Bricol-1, produced 5,500 barrels a day of light oil. The other, Bajlum-1, produced 5,230 barrels a day of super-light oil. It will only take Pemex a few month to tie these two wells into its pipeline network because they are close to existing production facilities.

Pemex needs to find a group of fields the size of Ayatsil to compensate for Cantarell, the largest field ever discovered in Mexico, that pumped over 2 million barrels a day in 2004. Since then it has slid by more than half, to under 700,000 barrels a day.

"We tend to think that another Cantarell does not exist," said Reyes Heroles.

Pemex also expects Ku Maloob Zaap, which recently surpassed Cantarell as the country's largest producer, to peak this year and begin fading. This puts more pressure on Pemex to get oil flowing from other areas.  

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.