MEXICO CITY – Mexico‘s state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, is ready to drill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico near the maritime border with the U.S., its head of production said Tuesday.
Pemex has in place high-tech drilling platforms, safety systems and membership in a well-containment group as part of redundant measures to prevent and control an oil leak, Carlos Morales Gil said at a news conference.
Pemex has complied with the requirements of Mexico’s watchdog National Hydrocarbons Commission, or CNH, he added.
“Yes, we’re going to Perdido this year, in a few months,” Morales said, referring to the hydrocarbon formation already being drilled on the U.S. side. “And, yes, we are in compliance with all of the requirements.”
The CNH chief, Juan Carlos Zepeda, said recently that he didn’t think Pemex was prepared for the challenges of drilling deep-water wells–those at depths exceeding 6,000 feet. Zepeda had said that Pemex wasn’t in compliance with the CNH because the oil company hadn’t yet been accepted into a well-containment group.
Zepeda’s warnings followed the Deepwater Horizon blowout, which killed 11 workers in April 2010 and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Pemex had its own blowout in the shallow waters of the Gulf in 1979 that spilled oil for months and fouled beaches in Texas.
Morales said Tuesday that Pemex has detailed seismic information of the Perdido area where it plans to drill, and that the oil monopoly has been training its own people and contracting international crews.
Furthermore, Pemex has received word that it is being accepted into the Helix Well Containment Group, he said, a U.S. consortium that inherited and improved some of the equipment used to cap the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Pemex is leasing three of the current generation of drilling platforms, according to Morales, with multiple safety systems. In the event of a blowout or leaking well, Pemex could drill a relief well relatively quickly because it has the three high-tech platforms in the Gulf and could move one or more.
On Monday, Pemex said it had a net loss of 23.8 billion pesos ($1.7 billion) in the fourth quarter as it paid more to the federal government in taxes and royalties than a year earlier, and had foreign exchange losses as a result of a weaker Mexican peso.
Pemex said sales in the final quarter of the year rose 22.5% from the fourth quarter of 2010 to MXN420.3 billion, thanks to higher world oil prices. The higher crude prices–$104.40 per barrel compared with $70.80 a year ago–were partially offset by lower export volume, which fell 10.5% to 1.339 million barrels a day, Pemex said in a filing with the local stock exchange.