Mexico’s Natural Gas Dilemma

FROM: OilPrice / Jude Clemente / 12 de febrero


Mexico’s 2013 energy reforms are based on bringing in more competition for the two state-owned monopolies that had become too stagnant, Pemex (oil and gas) and CFE (electricity). One of the key areas with huge upside for foreign firms is the very expensive process of natural gas storage, which is critical for Mexico as it moves to replace overused fuel oil and reduce GHG emissions to meet climate change goals.

Despite rapidly declining production, Mexico is one of the most natural gas dependent nations on Earth. Gas now supplies 45 percent of all energy and 60 percent of electricity. Mexico has been forced to increasingly depend on cheaper piped imports from the U.S., which at 4.5 Bcf/d now account for about 55 percent of Mexico’s total gas usage. Much more gas will be required. Per capita, Mexico’s 130 million citizens consume just a third of the electricity that other OECD nations do. Additionally, there is a manufacturing boom in Mexico, namely in the automotive industry that will use increasing amounts of natural gas.

Currently with no underground sites, gas storage in Mexico will help even the market out — especially during high-demand times — and smooth bottlenecks that needlessly increase prices. Mexico now utilizes three LNG import terminals for short-term balancing, but this pricier supply is a problem for a nation where 50 percent of the people live below the poverty line. Mexico has been the largest buyer of U.S. LNG due to its dearth of pipelines. As seen during Hurricane Harvey, where officials had to force industrials to curtail operations, Mexico remains vulnerable to supply disruptions north of the border.



Today, the promotion of strategic gas inventories by the Mexican government should eventually lead to a commercial storage business with long-term, large-scale options. To start, the Energy Ministry (Sener) has been crafting a draft on storage policy, with the key proposal being a strategic reserve mandate for Sistrangas, the state-owned operator of Mexico’s largest pipeline network. The main policy requires the National Gas Control Center (Cenagas) to hold 45 Bcf of working gas in storage, which is still just what the country consumes in five days. So obviously, much more needs to be done in Mexico. Other OECD nations hold an average of at least 80 days’ worth of gas in storage.

For a sufficient storage market to emerge, Mexico needs to first better understand the seasonality of its own gas demand. Consumption in the U.S., for instance, can double in winter from summer because of heating needs, and the gas storage market has two phases: a “withdrawal season” from November–March and an “injection season” from April–October. Although not as dramatic, Mexico’s gas demand does peak in summer when hot temperatures surge electricity demand for air conditioners. To illustrate, U.S. gas exports to Mexico have typically been 35–50 percent higher in summer than winter.

Following the U.S. model, gas storage in Mexico also hinges on the private sector developing price indexes at pipeline interconnections and allowing regional price differences to materialize. Long reliant on U.S. gas based on price points at Henry Hub and Houston Ship Channel, Mexico seeks its own hub pricing system. This should occur sometime this year, likely first starting in the manufacturing hub of Monterrey, the capital city of the northeastern state Nuevo León. Going forward, rising trading volumes should help grow the immature market as well. Ultimately, commercial gas storage could become a viable business in Mexico within three to five years at the earliest.

Mexico wants a domestic gas storage option that can offer attractive prices that don’t include transport adders, like users must now pay to import gas from the U.S. But it will be difficult to compete with the U.S. storage market, which is the largest and most dynamic in the world. Existing U.S. gas storage sites are immense, with a working capacity of ~4,700 Bcf at 385 storage fields. Many of these have been operating for decades and enhance liquidity by offering short-term contracts.

The U.S. South Central is the closest source of storage for Mexico, and the region’s working gas in storage currently sits at 703 Bcf, which is 293 Bcf lower than this time last year and 199 Bcf below the previous five-year average. And opening up more opportunities for American sellers, U.S. gas pipeline gas capacity into Mexico will reach 15 Bcf/d by 2020, a 50 percent rise from today.

But Mexico’s deregulation is about upgrading energy security with increased self-sufficiency, not spiraling dependence on the U.S. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the current favorite for Mexico’s July presidential election, has made this clear and has suggested a return to the old days of resource nationalism. Mexico also realizes that the huge U.S. LNG export build-out means that loads of gas will be leaving the country, destined for the booming markets in Asia. Both China and India have proven willing to pay more for energy and sign long-term contracts to ensure supply.

As such, the good news is that Mexico’s recent reforms have widened investment opportunities and brought in new producers. For example, although still small-scale, there are now about 18 non-Pemex and non-CFE gas sellers in the nation. And with an EIA-reported 550,000 Bcf of recoverable shale gas, development should start in Mexico in the early-2020s, especially bolstered by more suppliers, rising prices, and enhanced security against narco-traffickers.

Additionally, current and potential non-state producers were encouraged by Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission’s (CRE) decision last June to eliminate the maximum price that natural gas can be sold at “first-hand sales.” Freed from the hands of state control, this is another step for the immature market to finally incorporate the true value of natural gas — increasingly Mexico’s most vital fuel.


FROM: OilPrice / Jude Clemente / 12 de febrero

Los peores accidentes con hidrocarburos en México: Primera Parte

En México, la actividad petrolera es una de las más importantes por su contribución al desarrollo económico, sin embargo también está considerada una industria altamente riesgosa, por su potencial para causar daños a personas, bienes y al medio ambiente. En ocasiones, a pesar de contar con diversas medidas de seguridad, los accidentes ocurren y pueden llegar a tener consecuencias catastróficas.

A continuación, se presentan dos de los peores accidentes con hidrocarburos y/o petrolíferos sucedidos en México:

19 de noviembre de 1984. Se registraron diversas explosiones en las plantas de almacenamiento y distribución de Gas de Pemex en San Juan Ixhuatepec, Tlalnepantla, Estado de México. La planta de almacenamiento contaba con 4 tanques con un volumen de 1600 m3 y 2 con un volumen de 2400 m3, equivalente a 11,000,000 de litros aproximadamente[1].

El accidente provocó la muerte de entre 500 y 600 personas y un aproximado de 4,500 heridos, 200 mil damnificados.

El 22 de abril de 1992.  Una fuga de gasolina de un ducto de Pemex en Guadalajara vertió al subsuelo y al sistema de drenaje de la ciudad, lo que causó una gran explosión que dejó unos 210 muertos además de cuantiosos daños.

Estos dos siniestros significaron un importante precedente para la regulación de actividades altamente riesgosas, consideradas todas aquellas que manejan alguna de las sustancias contenidas en el Primer Listado (Manejo de Sustancias Tóxicas), de fecha 28 de marzo de 1990 y el Segundo Listado (Sustancias Inflamables y Explosivas) de fecha 04 de mayo de 1992.

Los listados fueron publicados posteriormente a cada uno de los siniestros antes mencionados, como una forma de incrementar las medidas de seguridad y evitar que volvieran a suceder.

En esos listados, se encuentran los hidrocarburos y petrolíferos, por lo que todos aquellos manejan estas sustancias están obligados a cumplir con la regulación aplicable a las actividades altamente riesgosas.

Una de esas obligaciones es contar con seguros de responsabilidad civil y responsabilidad ambiental para responder por los daños que puedan causar a terceros.

En NRGI Broker somos expertos en seguros para el Sector Hidrocarburos. Acércate a nosotros, con gusto te atenderemos.



[1] Ver “The tragedy of San Juanico- the most severe LPG disaster in history”, disponible en:

Stacked Oil and Gas Make Permian Deals Costly in Spite of Rout

Oil prices are depressed, but Texas shale has never been more valuable.

A recent spate of land deals in the sprawling Permian Basin illustrates a counter-intuitive trend: Real estate in the country’s most active oil field is even more expensive today than it was before commodity prices crashed.

QEP Resources Inc. agreed to pay a price that works out to close to $60,000 per net acre in June for a slice of the Permian, in the basin’s priciest land deal on record.

That’s more than double the average $30,000 per net acre explorers paid for Permian land during the first nine months of 2014, when oil topped $100 a barrel, according to data from Citigroup Inc. Oil has been hovering at $45 to $50 per barrel since mid-August.

Over the past few months, at least four other explorers agreed to pay more than $30,000 per net acre to expand in the Permian: Concho Resources Inc., Parsley Energy Inc., SM Energy Co., and Silver Run Acquisition Corp., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The valuations are pretty lofty,” said Bryan Lastrapes, managing director at Moelis & Co. “When you look at the prices being paid for a flowing barrel, they are higher than when oil was at $100.”

Unusual Geography

The obvious question: With oil so much cheaper today, why has Permian land become so pricey? There are a few explanations. The first comes down to the same reason a dingy is more valuable on a sinking ship.

“It’s about scarcity,” said Bruce Cox, global head of energy acquisitions and divestitures with Credit Suisse Group AG.

The Permian is one of the few places in the U.S. where drilling remains profitable amid low prices, thanks to its unusual geography, in which different layers of oil- and gas-soaked rock are stacked like layers in a cake, he said. An explorer can drill multiple horizontal wells after digging straight down.

“What you can’t find in most plays is the Permian hydrocarbon column,” Cox said. “Companies can drill two to four times as many wells over a 10-year development period” in the Permian than in other basins.

QEP Rationale

This is a key part of the rationale QEP used to justify the price it agreed to pay for the 9,400 net acres in the Permian in June.

The company told investors it sees a chance to drill more than 400 horizontal wells along four different benches of shale, more than a half-mile down, where it has already determined there is oil. It sees additional upside potential drilling riskier, wildcat wells on three other benches. So it isn’t buying just one field, but as many as seven.

That deal also addresses a perpetual critique from investors that QEP isn’t big enough in the Permian, by increasing its position there by 50 percent, Richard Doleshek, QEP’s chief financial officer, said in August.

“From a dollar-per-acre standpoint, we heard a lot of conversation about how that was a big number,” Doleshek said during a presentation at an oil and gas conference sponsored by Enercom Inc., according to a transcript compiled by Bloomberg.

“When you look at it on a target basis, it’s relatively reasonable,” he said. “It’s pristine acreage.”

Lower Costs

Another factor driving up Permian land prices is the fact that it has some of the lowest break-even costs in the world. The area has more than a half-dozen fields where drilling can stay profitable even when oil falls below $30 a barrel, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The oil rout has set off a land grab for that reason, said Ron Gajdica, co-head of energy acquisitions and divestitures with Citigroup.

“When oil prices were high, there was a high supply of acreage with economic drilling opportunities,” he said. “Now, in a $40 to $50 oil price environment, acreage with economic locations is scarcer. There are only a limited amount of opportunities and many of them are in the Permian.”

A couple of other things are driving up the price of Permian land. First, development costs have come down sharply during the downturn, thanks to lower service costs, technological advances and more efficient techniques, Gajdica said. That means explorers can justify paying higher prices for land.

Second, Wall Street is helping the trend. Publicly traded Permian explorers such as Concho and Parsley trade at a premium to other shale players. They paid for their recent acquisitions with stock. Since their currency is worth more, they can afford to pay up.

In addition, other explorers with operations elsewhere, such as QEP and SM, saw their share prices spike after striking deals in the Permian, which could spur even more dealmaking in the area.

“The market tends to respond favorably when these Permian deals are announced,” Gajdica said.

Copyright: Bloomberg

Safety Investment Remains Resilient Despite Downturn

Oil and gas companies are continuing to invest in safety research despite the current oil price downturn, DNV GL representatives told Rigzone during a recent trip to the firm’s Spadeadam testing and research facility in Cumbria, England.

“Business is tough in the oil and gas sector but committed customers are still investing in safety improvement. They’re still conducting research into major hazards,” said Gary Tomlin, DNV GL UK’s vice president of safety and risk.

Naturally, the level of this investment was slightly hampered by the drop in crude prices, but investment has started to increase over the last couple of months.

“We saw a hiccup and to be honest, it’s inevitable. When the oil price drops from $110 a barrel to $27, you’re kidding yourself if you’re not going to see a hiccup,” said Hari Vamadevan, DNV GL – Oil & Gas’ regional manager for the UK and West Africa.

“We’ve seen a pickup I would say over the last couple of months … oil recovery to $50 has helped a little bit, I think there’s positive cash flows for some companies, but many companies haven’t stopped [investing],” he added.

Investment in this type of research is expected to rise even further over the not too distant future, as the oil price achieves an anticipated rise and oil and gas firms gain more access to expendable income.

From an industry perspective we think … we’ll see an upturn 2017-2018,” said Tomlin. “I think that we’ve plateaued. We are a cyclical oil and gas industry … I think we’ve hit the low point, but we do need to be aware that we still need to control costs,” said Vamadevan. “I think companies will become profitable at $50 and $60 per barrel, and as the price rises I think there will be more investment. So I am hopeful that we will see more activity going forward,” he added.

Oil, Gas Safety Testing ‘Critically Important’

Oil and gas major hazards testing and research was described as critically important by Tomlin, who outlined the significance of Spadeadam for the hydrocarbon sector.

“It’s a unique facility worldwide. There are other facilities like this, but none that do the breadth of the work we do, so it’s something we’re incredibly proud of. The work we do here is of critical importance,” said Tomlin.

DNV GL Spadeadam Testing and Research is designed to carry out full-scale hazardous trials and simulate real-world environments. Situated in 120 acres (50 hectares) of Ministry of Defence land in the north of England, it offers the opportunity to test equipment, components, products, techniques and processes, and to provide data to validate computer models. 

aff at Spadeadam have recreated a number of major accidents at their facility – ranging from the Piper Alpha platform explosion to the Buncefield oil storage terminal fire – to find out exactly what went wrong and help prevent future incidents in the oil and gas industry.

“We’re undertaking research here that helps … [oil and gas companies] understand hazards that they  manage in their facilities, so that they can take measures to limit the risk to their people and their infrastructure,” said Tomlin. “We get people to experience large scale fires and explosions so that they can see and feel the power of these events. They can’t get that anywhere else in the world.”

Most safety lessons in the oil and gas sector come from real world events, said Vamadevan, who highlighted how experiences of this nature can be more useful than theoretical work.

“If you … felt a jet fire, you experience what happens in an explosion, it means you understand it much better than reading in a textbook, seeing a colour contour on a map or seeing a percentage,” Vamadevan told Rigzone.

Copyright: Rig Zone

What Will Drive LNG Growth for the Next Decade?

Question: What will be more localized, more widely dispersed and more transparent a decade from now? Answer: The liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry.

A recent Deloitte report on the changing LNG landscape presents such a scenario, and one of the report’s authors credits the United States’ emergence as a gas exporter as a catalyst for the evolution.

“The beginning of exports of LNG from the U.S. in 2016 adds an interesting new component to the global market, expanding the range of options available to buyers both geographically and in terms of pricing basis,” said Andrew Slaughter, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions.

Slaughter, who wrote the report with colleague John England, also sees liquid hub-based pricing becoming a more viable option compared to longstanding oil-linked LNG pricing formulas.

“It will be interesting to see whether this type of competition results in changes in strategy from the more traditional LNG suppliers,” Slaughter said.

In a recent interview with DownstreamToday, Slaughter elaborated on the Deloitte report’s findings. Moreover, he explained why – despite the unease felt by many in the LNG sector – he sees reason for industry players to be optimistic. Read on for his insights.

DownstreamToday: How would you summarize the current upheaval in the global energy market, and where does LNG fit in amid this dynamic environment?

Andrew Slaughter: In the short term, the global energy market is still adjusting to a lower oil price environment, in which crude oil prices dropped from above $100 per barrel down to $30-$40 levels since June 2014. While the primary causes of this were an accumulating imbalance of oil supply growth, relative to oil demand growth, the LNG market was not immune to the consequences. Long-term contract prices for LNG, which are linked by formula to crude oil price levels, have declined along with crude oil, negatively impacting the cash flow of existing LNG suppliers, as well as putting into question the expected economic returns for new and proposed LNG supply projects.

Over the longer term, in a world where most nations have committed to carbon mitigation policies at COP21, we expect natural gas to be able to increase its share of energy demand around the world, both because of its intrinsically lower carbon intensity than other fossil fuels and also because of its complementarity with renewable energy in the power sector, providing grid stability and reliability when renewable generation is not available. We expect LNG to play a significant part in meeting this growth in gas demand around the world over the next two or three decades.

DownstreamToday: Deloitte has observed that the LNG trade has quadrupled over the last two decades and is poised to double over the next two decades. What were some key attributes of the previous growth period, and what major characteristics would you expect during the next one? Any particularly prominent similarities/differences?

Slaughter: LNG market growth over the past 20 years has predominantly been characterized by the development of large integrated gas projects in which most LNG has been committed to buyers under long-term contracts. This model has been necessary to secure project financing for multi-billion dollar investment in upstream gas development, liquefaction trains, specialized ships and regasification terminals. Using this model, new LNG supply sources have been developed in resource-rich countries like Qatar, Australia, Trinidad and Nigeria; and large new markets have been opened up, such as India and China.

Over the next 10 to 20 years, we expect growth in the LNG market to be associated with the opening up of many more, often smaller, markets served by more flexible supply options, such as floating storage and regasification units, smaller, more modular liquefaction technologies and the growth of both portfolio supplies and LNG traders to more flexibly match supply with market needs. We also expect new and emerging applications for LNG to grow, creating an additional boost to demand – such as LNG as a marine fuel and as a fuel for heavy trucks and rail.

DownstreamToday: You’ve identified seven key factors that should drive LNG growth in the next 10 years. Which of these factors is supported by the strongest evidence? Which factors are more of a guessing game?

Slaughter: Of the seven key factors identified in the Deloitte report, three represent challenges for LNG development, at least for the next several years. The potential slowdown in global economic growth, and perhaps particularly in China, may lead to a near-term slowing of LNG demand, as will continued improvements in energy efficiency which work to decouple demand growth rates from economic growth rates. Thirdly, the amount of new LNG supply capacity planned or announced is a threat to sanctioning the next wave of LNG projects which will likely be needed post 2020.

On the side of opportunity, the other four factors are more favorable to LNG development. These are the reduction of LNG shipping costs, allowing markets to be served more economically; the development of new markets geographically, such as in South East Asia and Latin America; the emerging penetration of LNG into new applications such as for road and marine transport fuels, as well as the larger-scale expansion of LNG as a source for natural gas as a power generation fuel; and the expansion of market liquidity, with more buyers, more sellers, more diverse contract terms and durations making it easier for market participants to structure the right deals to expand their business.

There is fairly strong evidence supporting all these factors, and it will be fascinating to watch how they play out over the next 10 years or so.

DownstreamToday: You’ve no doubt seen industry headlines proclaiming that the era of mega-LNG projects is drawing to a close and that small- and mid-scale projects are on an upward trajectory. What effects on the broader LNG market do you anticipate with the rise of smaller-scale projects?

Slaughter: Smaller-scale projects are emerging on the liquefaction side of the business with project developers proposing smaller and more modular units than have historically been the norm; and also on the regasification side of the business with the increasing deployment of floating regasification and storage units to serve new market locations. Such developments reduce the upfront capital required to launch an LNG project, potentially opening up new sources of financing. And these developments add more flexibility and optionality to the market, and will contribute to the development of new markets and the growth of portfolio players and traders who can play a role in enhancing the efficiency of the market.

DownstreamToday: What is the most surprising thing you learned while preparing your report?

Slaughter: Despite higher-than-accustomed levels of uncertainty about LNG prices, growth prospects and the viability of new supply investments, market participants maintain a high degree of long-term optimism about the future of LNG as a growing and strategic part of the world’s energy supply and trade. This is founded on the attractiveness of natural gas as a fuel in major and emerging markets, for which its lower carbon intensity than other fossil fuels plays a major role; and on the maturing of LNG market structures globally, to accommodate  new contractual options.


Copyright: Rig Zone

Byron Energy encounters further hydrocarbons in the SM71-1 well in Gulf of Mexico

Byron Energy is pleased to provide an update on the Byron Energy SM71 #1 oil and gas discovery well located in the Gulf of Mexico in South Marsh Island Block 71 (‘SM71’).

Since the last report, on 27 April 2016, the well has been deepened, to the predrill planned total depth of 7,477 feet measured depth/6,915 feet true vertical depth and wireline logs have been run over the deeper portion of the well.

The processed open hole porosity logs from this deepened section of the well indicate the presence of a very high porosity gas or gas condensate reservoir from 7,212 feet to 7,226 feet measured depth.  A 5” liner will now be run and cemented in place over the deeper portion of the SM71 #1 well.

As previously reported, the SM71 #1 well encountered 132 feet of TVT net oil pay in the I3 Sand, J Sand and D5 Sands. The final, processed version of the logs run over these three sands has now been received and confirm the previously reported net TVT pay count. Additionally, Isotube sample analysis indicates the likely presence of light, sweet crude oil from all three sand intervals.

Current operations are preparing to run 5″ liner over the deeper portion of the well before suspending the well for future production. It is expected that the rig will be demobilised within 10 days after mud line suspension operations are completed.

Byron’s CEO, Maynard Smith said:

‘We are very pleased to encounter our fourth hydrocarbon interval in this wellbore. This is the first time in my career I have seen four sands trap hydrocarbons stratigraphically in one well bore. Every pre-drill target sand, both primary and secondary, has been found to have hydrocarbons. These stratigraphic traps were found using a high resolution second generation Reverse Time Seismic Migration (RTM) and in conjunction with a very advanced  seismic inversion model. To further enhance and fine tune our inversion model, we acquired acoustic shear wave data overall objective sands in this wellbore. This data will be key to understanding the seismic responses in both hydrocarbon and wet sands in the area. The shear log in our well is the first shear wave data collected in over 320 wells drilled thus far on the SM71 dome where 117 million barrels and 377 BCF of gas has been produced. We believe this information will give Byron a significant advantage in exploring for and exploiting other stratigraphic traps on our blocks and other blocks on the dome. We are immediately commencing plans for future production facilities and pipelines in order to shorten the time to production as much as possible.’

The SM71 #1 well is the second well to be drilled as part of Byron’s farm-out to Otto Energy, announced on 11 December 2015.

Byron, through its wholly owned subsidiary Byron Energy Inc. (the operator), currently has a 100% working interest and an 81.25% net revenue interest in SM71, located offshore Louisiana, 250 km southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, in water depth of approx. 131 feet (40 metres). Because the SMI71 #1 well has been drilled to the earning depth Otto has now earned the right to elect to earn a 50% working interest in the SM70 and SM71 blocks and has confirmed it will exercise its right. Consequently, Byron’s working and net revenue interests will be reduced by 50%, to 50% and 40.625% respectively.


Copyright: Your Oil an Gas News