Pemex, has made its first big crude-oil discovery in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, near the Mexico-U.S. maritime boundary, according to President Felipe Calderon.
Mr. Calderon said the initial estimate of a deposit in the Perdido area on Mexico's side of the Gulf was between 250 million and 400 million barrels of light crude, using the industry's broadest measurement of "proven, probable and possible," or 3P, reserves. The exploratory well was drilled in 2,500 m of water.
"We estimate that this deposit could belong to one of the most important regions of the deepwater Gulf," he said. The larger "petroleum system" of additional fields, Mr. Calderon added, "could have from four billion to 10 billion barrels of crude, which bolsters our reserves and will allow Mexico to maintain and increase petroleum production in the medium- and long-term."
The new well, dubbed "Trion I," was drilled 39 km south of the U.S.-Mexico maritime border, and 180 kilometers east of Gulf state of Tamaulipas, which also borders the U.S.
On the U.S. side of the Gulf, Royal Dutch Shell operates its Perdido oil and gas platform in the region. The platform has a peak production capacity of 100,000 bopd, according to Shell's website.
Prior to Pemex's discovery of crude oil at Trion, the oil monopoly had found only natural gas during the recent increase of its deepwater exploratory efforts.
Carlos Morales, head of Pemex's exploration of production division, said in a radio interview that Trion I could be among the top-10 crude-oil discoveries on either side of the Gulf. He said typically a deposit of its type would take seven years to get to the production phase, but that Pemex is going to try and do that in five years.
Mr. Morales said Pemex began committing more resources to Gulf oil exploration in 2007 with the construction of special drilling platforms, and said he foresees a Tamaulipas oil port to service Pemex's future operations in the Gulf. Mr. Morales said pushing aggressively into deep waters could raise Pemex's crude-oil production to 4 million bopd from the current 2.55 million bopd.
The deep waters of the Gulf are seen by analysts as one of Pemex's best bets to have another surge of oil production after eight years of steady declines.
Pemex has traditionally drilled in the shallow waters of the southern Gulf, where the discovery of the supergiant Cantarell complex in the late 1970s launched Mexico as an oil power. Cantarell's output peaked at more than 2 million barrels of oil per day in 2004 and is now around 400,000 barrels a day.
Mr. Calderon, who held up a sample of crude oil taken from the well, said half of Pemex's petroleum reserves could be in the deep waters of the Gulf.
Pemex reported proven hydrocarbon reserves of 13.8 billion boe as of Jan. 1. Its 3P reserves were 43.8 billion boe.
Under current law, Mexico doesn't allow foreign companies to drill in its territory except under contract to Pemex,