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The Sonda de Campeche: Thirty Years after Cantarell; New Insights to Extend the Exploration Frontier in the Southern Gulf of Mexico—Part I


Meneses Rocha, Javier J.1, Adán E. Oviedo Pérez2, Francisco J. Sánchez de Tagle1, Arturo Soto Cuervo1, Alicia Cruz Rodríguez1, Javier Villaseñor Hernández1, Jorge Varela Santamaría1, Jaime Barceló Duarte1, Felipe Audemard3, Andreas Suter3 (1) Pemex Exploration and Production, DCS Mexico, Mexico (2) PEMEX Exploration & Production, Villahermosa, Mexico (3) Schlumberger, Villahermosa, Tabasco,


Campeche Sound was discovered in 1976 with the Chac -1 well, drilled on the flank of a structure interpreted as a salt cored anticline. Today this structure is known as the Cantarell Complex, one of the world super giants producing over 1.5 million barrels per day. This dis­covery became a major turning point not only for the exploration in Mexico; but also in the global market of hydrocarbons, making Mexico an important player as a non-OPEC country, particularly for the North American region consumption. The first ten years of successful and extensive exploration concurred with a period of relatively high oil prices and growing domestic demand. Production achieved more than two million barrels per day. Peak invest­ment in exploration was in 1983, but from 1988 investments fell steeply to reach a low in 1999. During the first stages of exploration extensive 2-D seismic reflection surveys along with gravity and magnetometry led to identifying around thirty prospects, some of which confirmed the importance of this hydrocarbon province. Today the Upper Cretaceous -Paleocene carbonate breccia remains as the main province play producer fully constrained by the up and downs of the of the hydrocarbon market (prices and volumes) as well as due to technology and the lack of needs for new concepts in the early years of the exploration phase. Therefore the answer for questions such as: Has the province reached its maximum potential?; and has the petroleum potential been exhausted?, the answer is a definite “No”; as we will see along this analysis.