"Mexico Oil Privatization Pays Off With Billion-Barrel Find"

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Guest post by David Middleton

Mexico Oil Privatization Pays Off With Billion-Barrel Find

By Adam Williams and Angelina Rascouet

July 12, 2017

  • Block among first awarded for private exploration in Mexico
  • Premier Oil shares jump as much as 38% on Zama-1 well success

Mexico’s decision to allow private companies to explore for oil and gas started to pay off after the discovery of at least a billion barrels in a new offshore field.

A consortium of Premier Oil PlcSierra Oil & Gas S de RL de CVand Talos Energy LLC made the discovery in the shallow waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico just two years after winning the exploration license. It’s the first new find by a private company in the country in almost 80 years, according to consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd., possible only after the government ended the monopoly of state-run Petroleos Mexicanos.

The Zama discovery “is the most important achievement so far of Mexico’s energy reform,” Pablo Medina, the senior upstream analyst for Latin America at Wood Mackenzie, said by email. “It is one of the 15 largest shallow-water fields discovered globally in the past 20 years.”



Wrong, Bucko!



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The stability of the Mexican government is the only problem I see in all this. Finding oil/gas is all well and good, getting it out of the ground, transported and sold all while dealing with officials who can change in the blink of an eye makes it all rather uncertain.

Historically, the Mexican government these days is pretty stable. All bets are off if Andrés Manuel López Obrador get elected president next year. He is a socialist.


perhaps he might bring the “Bolivarian” miracle to Mexico, following in the foot steps of Chavez


You mean like Obama?


The oil has to be sold into the markets to earn any income. So the existence of the field puts supply pressure on the market even if it’s controller by thugs. –Unless it’s controlled by Chavistas,


Money from oil is minuscule compared to Mexican government’s vig from meth, heroin, cocaine and remitted monies from their nationals illegally in America.


I worked with PEMEX, living in Tampico Mexico in the late 60’s on a major project, and was told by friends there a little bit of oil history in Mexico.
Mexico nationalized all oil assets in 1929 and threw out the foreigners who were involved in developing the oil fields. .
Those who I knew told me that new discoveries were essentially stopped without foreign expertise.
Development in Mexico started again only after they let foreign investors back in and apparently they recently have allowed further foreign investment again.
In the mid 70’s Venezuela nationalized the oil fields. They too allowed foreign investments back in after little new development only to throw the investors out again under Chavez. Their industry including oil, and people have been crippled by the latest socialistic regime.
Saudi Arabia gradually took control of it’s oil fields starting in the mid 70’s and ultimately took full control by 1980; however, this was not by Nationalization but by deals with the previous owners and they were wise enough to retain foreign expertise..
Anyone who is in the oil business today knows that if they invest in certain countries there is always a risk of Nationalization or unfriendly government takeover; and that includes Mexico today in my mind.


Did you work with any men named Dedeaux, Redmon, Bassett or Debraux hailing from southern Mississippi or southern Louisiana? I had several uncles and cousins who worked in Mexico in ’60s and ’70s, some directly for PeMex and others for Brown&Root, Hali, etc etc. They loved the country and people, hated dealing with their government at all levels.
Mods, Sorry for a repost, this comment dumped to bottom of thread for some reason.


David, you are right, The Democrats are still complaining about the reduced royalty incentives President Clinton offered to get oil production moving when the crude price was low and the incentives were small for deep water drilling. Somehow it appears that Democrats like other countries having control over our energy supply, raising prices and undermining national security.
2 Hotel..
No I never ran into any of the names you mention. There were very few gringos on the project I worked on. This was the first project, at least in refining, that PEMEX did all the field construction work themselves with only one McKee contractor on site to coordinate questions between McKee, the design contractor, and the local PEMEX construction group.
I was part of a team to check out the plant and assist in the startup of a licence technology that process heavy bottoms to make lighter products. For me a a young engineer it was a great experience, since there were numerous construction errors to find and get corrected to make the plant operable and safe. I did not speak fluent Spanish, but had great relationship with the Mexican Engineers at the working level and we could communicate on the engineering level with sketches, etc.
The Mexican workers and lower level engineers were all conscientious and pleasant to work with.
The PEMEX management lessor so.


It is always worth asking. Many of them worked as construction pipe fitters and welders/fabricators, most were rig men, toolpushers and deckhands and such. A few geologists and electrical engineers, some crane operators and three chopper pilots. Lots of them spent years, on and off, working at Amerada Hess refinery complex in Purvis, MS and other plants in LA and around Huston. You know the deal, Oil Gypsies.


Off topic and totally irrelevant.
Ice bergs are breaking off all the time, and considering how much the ice shelf has grown in recent years, it’s hardly surprising that big chunks of ice break off.


It is of topic. If you think this is irrelevant think again. See CNN, ABC, etc. etc. Watch the newspaper coming.
This will bring back CLIMATE CHANGE is REAL in a HURRY.


Rd50. CNN does have a article on this….. “The team of researchers have not yet found “any link to human-induced climate change,” Martin O’Leary, a Swansea University glaciologist and member of the MIDAS project team, said in a statement.”
“This will bring back CLIMATE CHANGE is REAL in a HURRY.”…..more like a whimper. Maybe the Russians are hiding the evidence?

Bill Illis

The crack that led to this iceberg started over 100 years ago. There is a subsurface ridge under the ice-shelf which continually makes new cracks in the same location as the ice-shelf slowly moves out to sea. There are about 7 other cracks coming in behind and over the next 100 years, there will be 7 more ice-bergs coming out from the same location. This is what Antarctic ice-shelves do and have done so for 34 million years.


Off topic and totally irrelevant.

… but amusing nevertheless.
One of the local radio stations in Ontario, Canada plays the BBC news. There was an ice expert who explained that this was how things worked. She described it as ‘business as usual’.
A bit after the BBC news the local announcer did a piece on the calving ice sheet. Holy Hyperbole Batman!
The stark contrast between the two versions of the same story on the same radio station was perhaps the funniest thing I’ve heard all day.


r2d250, natural, cyclical occurrences of ice breaking off is of little interest, unless it’s for use by the usual scare-mongers (MSM & like-minded scum).


To Duncan.
I can cherry pick this from the article:
“But the ice shelf is now at its most retreated position ever recorded and regional warming may have played a part in that.”
Wait and see. Speculations will be coming.


Same old, same old-
“In 1893 (after arriving in Nelson in September 92), the iron sailing ship “Margaret Galbraith” was homeward bound around Cape Horn. Mr. N.H. Burgess the 2nd Officer reported that from three days north of the Falklands to about one weeks sailing north of the Falklands they were “among the ice,” which culminated with a days sailing past a single giant berg “40 to 50 miles long,” The account suggest the ship may have been only making 3 to 5 knots around this time, certainly at night one would expect them to throttle back. They had a close call on first encountering the ice north of the Falklands.
It may be partly by chance that the length of this iceberg was reported because the sailing people seemed more impressed by the height of ice encountered than the extent of any particular piece. The 40 to 50 mile long berg mentioned above was reported as being 1000 ft asl at the NE end”
The distance from Faklands to Antarctic is 4,123 kilometers. How long was the iceberg at sea and what size was it when it broke off?


“Today’s sea temperature in Stanley, Falkland Islands is 42 °F”
“For mild sea conditions an iceberg deteriorates at a rate of height decrease of two metres per day in 0 to 4 C (32 to 39 F) water, and three metres per day in 4 to 10 C (39 to 50 F) water. Destruction of icebergs in warm water is increased during stormy weather’


Drag it up to California to end their drought. 😉


David, you might know this…..How much of this country is off limits for oil and gas?
I would bet if we bring those areas back online…there would be no more talk about peak oil.


I’d be more excited if they found a place to put a solar panel farm that generated electricity 24 hours a day. You know, like Spain had.


“I’d be more excited if they found a place to put a solar panel farm that generated electricity 24 hours a day.”
How about airplanes that follow the Sun? Don’t laugh, remember that people are trying to extract CO2 and stuff it into the ground.


There is a solar powered aircraft that follows the sun. It barely produces enough energy to keep itself aloft and it needs to steer well clear of any weather. And, long extension cords would not be helpful.
How is this useful for energy production on the ground?
Just like satellite power generation for terrestrial use, a bad idea. Let the space based power stations power the space based factories (when we get around to building them).


Obama funded those kind of ideas without proper vetting with zero results for probably a trillion dollars. Leave it to the private investors.

tony mcleod

I suppose it’s relevent to talk about oil discovery on a website that purports to be about global warming and climate change.


Yes, yes it is. It is also relevant to discuss government corruption and the corruption of the sciences on a blog that is supposed to be about climate change and the lie of globall warmining.

Roger Knights

The longevity of fossil fuels is relevant to the climate change debate.


Why am I not seeing info in the comments regarding the replacement of the term ‘fossil fuels’, with the term “abiotic”?


Because that is irrelevant. People want electricity, natural gas and fuel for internal combustion engines of every type, we really don’t give a f**k what particular nomenclature is applied to it while it is in the ground. Call it Faerie Farts! No body cares.

Bruce Cobb

“Dumping 30Gt of CO2 into the atmosphere in a geological heartbeat…what effect could that possibly have?”
The plants should like it. Might raise the ppm count a point or two. Yawn.

36 Gt CO2 is about what we are adding annually from burning fossil fuels, enough to raise CO2 by 4.6 PPMV per year, plus a little more from land use change. Nature has been removing about half of this on average over the years.

That 5.3 for fossil fuel burning in the graphic looks low to me. The past several years have averaged above 9, and that’s gigatonnes of carbon.

Clyde Spencer

You said, “The only thing different about our contribution is that we are removing carbon from geologic sequestration and adding it into the active carbon cycle.” I think that it would be more accurate to say that humans are accelerating the rate at which the geologically sequestered carbon is being released into the atmosphere. There are many underground coal fires that were started by lightening and have been burning for centuries. There are many oil seeps both on land and in the ocean, which are being oxidized by bacteria. I’m not sure that we have a good handle on the magnitude of the natural hydrocarbon releases. The coal and petroleum that are currently buried may eventually be exposed at the surface by erosion, and it will then either burn or oxidize slowly, releasing CO2. Alternatively, it may get subducted and be released through volcanos.

tony mcleod

“The point is that our contribution is very small compared to “natural” sources.”
David you must remember to include sinks with your “natural”. When you do the cancel out the natural sources. It means the delta due humans far out ways the natural delta.
Our “handle” is more than adequate to show the rising CO2 concentration is anthropogenic.
If raising the concentration from 280 to 410ppm didn’t have an effect – that would be weird and take some major rethinking of the theory.

tony mcleod

David, lets overlay the graphs, add a couple of others and get it up to date a bit more.comment image
There, thats a more realistic picture.
As far as sensitivity goes to doubling CO2, do you think it is wise to ignore all the feedbacks? Albedo for example. When they are included this distribution is a probable total effect.comment image
EOS Project Science Office
Quite a discernible effect I’d say.


So, throw in some faked data and it has an effect? Okey dokey, then.

Tsk Tsk

“Simulated Sensitivity” which brings us to the classic joke about modeling:
How are simulation and masturbation alike?
Do them both often enough and you start to think they’re real.


tony writes

There, thats a more realistic picture.

Please refrain from plotting low resolution proxy data alongside high resolution modern temperature data.
How do those plots look if you ONLY use proxy data?
Actually forget what I said. Its better if you display your bias for all to see. Especially new people who want to understand why sceptics believe what they do.

Tony Mcleod: On the bar graph of distribution of simulated climate sensitivity: That has to include models chosen / tuned to hindcast the past, especially the rapid warmup from the early 1970s to 2005 (or an only slightly different period if they are not CMIP5 models), when the multidecadal oscillations were generally on an upswing but not considered by the models. So they attributed about .2 degree C more warming in that period to increase of greenhouse gases than was accomplished by increase of greenhouse gases. (I once did Fourier on HadCRUT3 and found a periodic item with peak-to-peak amplitude of .218 degree C, with a period of 64 years, a minimum at 1973 and a maximum at 2005.)
These models have excessively positive feedbacks, such as significantly positive cloud albedo feedback combined with water vapor feedback being at least that of constant relative humidity. I believe the cloud albedo feedback is slightly positive (clouds getting more efficient at moving heat due to more water vapor make them cover less area), but this requires decreasing overall atmospheric relative humidity as the world warms.

Regarding the Ljungqvist F.C. 2010 graph: I notice 30-year-averaged HadCRUT4 is spliced onto a reconstruction that goes back to 0 A.D. How would 30-year-averaged HadCRUT4 fare with a few more years of data? HadCRUT4 averaged 1985-2014 is warmer than averaged 1981-2010 by .054 degree C, which increases the .216 degree C above the peak of the MWP to .26 degree C. (I chose a 4 year extension to make it non-ENSO-positive, while a 5 or 6 year one is ENSO-positive.)

I want to back down my .054 degree increase from .216 degree C above peak of MWP to .035 degree C increase, to bump up the .216 to .251 instead of .27 degree C (which I typo-ed as .26) above the peak of the MWP. This is to factor for my 4-year shift causing a nearly .003 degree C warming by replacing 4 years with 4 others that I figure were on average a little over .14 degree C warmer due to multidecadal oscillations.

Oops, where I just posted .003 I forgot to change that to .019 while I was rechecking my calculations. .14 degree C warming due to multicadal oscillations, applied to 4 years out of 30, accounts for .019 degree C of warming due to my proposed 4-year shift.

Clyde Spencer

You said, “And we don’t really have a good handle on the natural components of the carbon cycle.”
Which is a point I tried to make in my first posting on WUWT: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/05/05/anthropogenic-global-warming-and-its-causes/

Steve Case

Private or public, let’s hope we don’t have a repeat of the IXTOC-1 oil spill:

Bruce Cobb

“We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices”.
Yes we can!


Yes, we have! There, fixed it for you.

What lousy timing : Mexico discovers oil just as the world’s automakers (all of them) are on the threshold of riding lower battery prices into a new era of gas-free automobiles.

Bruce Cobb

On what planet?


Delusional thinking at it’s best.

Bill Illis
Don T.

That’s why I refer to electric cars as “remote-emission vehicles”


Even the IEA has acknowledged that Obama’s policy has not achieved a sustainable energy policy to achieve the CO 2 reduction targets laid forth.
Also I note that Obama spent millions for alternative liquid biofuels and now it seems they are admitting it was a giant failure since France and others are abandoning renewable liquid fuels and mandating electric cars.
Do we get a refund on the failed biofuel investments?
Strange we were subsidizing the development of a fuel for an internal combustion engine and now we ban the engine outright? What a gross failure and waste of resources!
These are the fools who want to decide and pick which technology will win the battle for the future, such fools they are to ignore good engineering and science and listen to uninformed enviros.


These are also the fools who want 100% control of all our healthcare.


Incentive. Achievement.


I’m glad Obama’s quote has re-surfaced. His Harvardian economic Rule of Supply and Supply has been drowned in the real world mantra of Drill Baby, Drill!

One more discovery like that and Mexico will Nationalize their Oil Industry again…


Mike, Unfortunately history proves your point on the cycle.
Boom in exploration, nationalize, failure, bring in outside expert, success, nationalize, failure, etc.
This is how socialism repeats failure again and again, note Venezuela who is at the bottom of the cycle just now.


Tom in Florida

Well this certainly isn’t good news for those of us with oil company stocks.

To put this new discovery into perspective (at ~2Bbbl TRR) the world needs about three of those discoveries per year just to offset the decline of Ghawar, which was reworked for the southern section with secondary water flood in 2010 and which Saudi Aramco predicts will be fully depleted around 2035 even with tapering to maximize eventual recovery. In 2012 when I finished writing Gaia’s Limits after 3 years of research, Ghawar by itself provided 6% of the world’s total crude production.

The average price per gallon in US Dollars here in La Paz and Cabo, Mexico as of July 10th, 2017 is $3.60 per gallon in USD approximately – Regular gas – It has never been below $3 USD/gal since I have been down here in the Baja for 7 years…The government controls the prices – no cut rate when the global price or crude oil went down. It’s complicated down here…


Talos Energy one of the partners in the Zama-1 has put out gross estimate of 1.4 – 2.0 billion bbl. So it is possibly twice as big a hit as the title suggests. And drilling somwhere close by (Amoca 1,2 & 3 ) in the same basin the italians (ENI) recently put out news of a find estimated at 1.3 billion bbl. so alredy discoved finds are perhaps above 3 billion bbl. All in shallow waters and hq stuff light oil.


“David Middleton” and “ristvan” (ABOVE) touch on the potentials for Green River oil shale extraction. It would put peak oil out to the 23rd century.
Current field testing is going on this year by multiple interests. But the water limitation to extraction is calculated to be circumvented by using massive microwave beams in the unconventionally shallow formations, as discussed last December:
“Producers would microwave oil shale formations with a beam as powerful as 500 household microwave ovens, cooking the kerogen and releasing the oil. It also would turn the water found naturally in the deposits to steam, which would help push the oil to the wellbore. ‘Once you remove the oil and water,’ Kearl continues, ‘the rock basically becomes transparent’ to the microwave beam, which can then penetrate outward farther and farther, up to about 80 feet from the wellbore. It doesn’t sound like much, but a single microwave-stimulated well, which would be drilled in formations on average nearly 1,000 feet thick, could pump about 800,000 barrels. Qmast plans to have its first systems deployed in the field in 2017 and start producing by the end of that year.
Qmast estimates his pumping costs will be about $9 per barrel, which is only about $2 more than conventional wells. _ _ _
“Peter Kearl is co-founder and CTO of Qmast which is a Colorado-based company pioneering the use of the microwave technology to recover oil. Oil giants BP and ConocoPhillips are pouring resources into developing similar extraction techniques, which can be far less water- and energy-intensive than fracking. There is more than 4.285 trillion barrels of oil barrels of oil in the Green River Formation (2011 U.S. Geological Survey of resource in-place). Using oil shale cutoffs of potentially viable (15 gallons per ton) and high grade (25 gallons per ton), it is estimated that between 353 billion and 1.146 trillion barrels of” oil.
This news story also mentions that this innovative technology may also extend the lives of conventional and fracking oil wells:
“Kearl thinks there is another, immediate use for his technology: to unblock existing oil and gas wells that have become too sluggish to be worth operating. Similarly, fracking well production declines quickly when the shale absorbs water, causing the rock to swell and squeeze into the fractures and block the gas’s exit. Many of these wells are abandoned despite there being plenty of remaining oil or gas, and new wells are dug. If microwaves can melt paraffin and boil off water, blocked wells will flow like new. ‘They could be effectively rehabilitated by microwave heating,’ says Kearl. This could help protect environmentally sensitive areas.”


Did you work with any men named Dedeaux, Redmon, Bassett or Debraux hailing from southern Mississippi or southern Louisiana? I had several uncles and cousins who worked in Mexico in ’60s and ’70s, some directly for PeMex and others for Brown&Root, Hali, etc etc. They loved the country and people, hated dealing with their government at all levels.

Jeff L

It is worth noting the billion barrels is an OOIP # (range 1.0-1.1 BBO OOIP). Recoverable # is 300-500 MMBO ; Still a nice number but not quite the same impact as the headline implies

Jeff L

*1.0-1.5 BBO OOIP – wish we could edit our posts


You are commended for a great, informative post. Also your patience to stay with it and offer even more useful information again and again is great follow-up.
Thank you