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Mexico’s Shale Oil and Gas Plays: Potential and Exploration Strategy

Galicia-Barrios, Jose Guadalupe
[email protected]

Six petroleum provinces in Mexico contain basinal, organic-rich and thermally matured argillaceous rocks of upper Cretaceous and Upper Jurassic ages with well-recognized characteristics of being shale oil and shale gas plays. These provinces are: Burro-Picachos, Sabinas, Burgos, Tampico-Misantla, Veracruz and Chihuahua.

The main plays are the Cretaceous Eagle Ford-Agua Nueva and the Jurassic La Casita-Pimienta. An initial estimation of the prospective resources indicate that these plays contain more than 60 bboe, of which 32 correspond to oil, 37 tcf to wet gas and 105 tcf to dry gas. Based on their geographic and stratigraphic distribution, an exploration strategy has been designed to reduce uncertainty of these resources.

Pemex Exploration and Production (PEP) has begun testing these plays in the Burro-Picachos and Sabinas provinces, where the continuation of the Eagle Ford from Texas into Mexico has been confirmed in both dry and wet gas. In the same area, the Upper Jurassic La Casita Formation has also tested dry gas and in the southern Burgos Basin the first shale oil has been discovered in the Upper Jurassic Pimienta Formation.

In the case of Tampico-Misantla province, basin modeling, geochemical characterization of rocks and fluids and old well data have allowed the identification of the most prospective areas where fit-for-purpose seismic acquisition and exploration drilling has begun to evaluate the Pimienta and the Upper Cretaceous Agua Nueva as unconventional plays.

Considering that shale oil and shale gas amount for more than half of the current total prospective resources of Mexico, exploring for these plays has a strategic value to ensure long term energy supply. A sustainable development will require taking advantage of the lessons learned in other areas and applying the right technology to maximize the value of these resources and minimize the environmental impact.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90166©2013 AAPG International Conference & Exhibition, Cartagena, Colombia, 8-11 September 2013