MEXICO CITY – Mexico has made a large shale gas discovery that could increase the nation’s natural gas reserves between three- and six-fold, the energy secretary said.
Jordy Herrera told Radio Formula that state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos must study the deposits to “determine precisely how big their potential is.”
Pemex said earlier this year that its 3P (possible, proved and probable) reserves of natural gas totaled roughly 61 billion cubic feet.
Preliminary studies show the boundary of these deposits runs through the northern states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas and even a small area of the eastern state of Veracruz and central state of San Luis Potosi.
“There’s a large region of our country where we can find this type of natural gas, what’s been labeled shale gas, and now what’s needed is to find ... the best model” for developing those resources.
Herrera noted that shale gas comes from unconventional geological formations and requires different extraction methods, including the use of pressurized fluid to create a facture in the rock layer, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
Mexico has been aware of these types of deposits for two or three decades but only developed the techniques that allow for the profitable extraction of that fossil fuel in recent years.
“Now it’s about determining our country’s potential and hiring the companies that have this profile so they can help Pemex extract it and be able to use this resource as soon as possible,” the secretary said.
According to Herrera, those resources will enable Mexico to stop importing natural gas and spur development of its petrochemical industry, “which is one of the biggest pending (challenges) in the energy sector.”
Knowing that this resource “is close at hand” but not taking steps to develop it is “unforgivable,” the secretary said, adding that private companies could produce the gas under Pemex’s new contract model.
Herrera was referring to a Mexican energy reform pushed through Congress under President Felipe Calderon’s administration that allows Pemex to hire private companies under incentive-based service contracts.
Two companies, including the local unit of U.S.-based oil-services giant Schlumberger, have been awarded the first of those contracts to operate onshore oil fields.
However, Calderon said at a business conference this week that Mexico needs much more far-reaching reforms to capitalize on its energy wealth. EFE