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Mexico working to launch shale licensing round, oil companies waiting

Vista Oil & Gas

Miguel Galuccio is now concentrating on the Mexican shale sector with Vista Oil & Gas but he has had past success in Argentina and the Vaca Muerta formation leading.

Kathrine Schmidt

Petroleumworld 10 05 2017

Mexico is continuing to take steps towards an initial round for unconventional oil and gas, having lined up detailed plans covering acreage prospective for various shale and tight oil plays, writes Kathrine Schmidt .

However, potential explorers are still waiting on the country to launch the round, with a firm date still to be set.

Officials had said the first shale round could take place this year, following the passage of regulations to govern the sector from fledgling oil and gas safety agency Asea, but no word has emerged yet. Earlier this year, officials said regulators were still working on a model contract.

The country's energy ministry has said industry can expect two bid rounds each year, starting next year with the country's Round 3. The first phase, 3.1, would contain shallow-water and conventional onshore resources, while the second phase, 3.2, would include deep-water and unconventional resources.

The ministry, known as Sener, has identified nearly 200 prospective blocks in the Sabinas Burgos and Tampico Misantla basins as candidates for future bidding rounds, according to its five-year plan.

Sener estimates an enormous prospective resource of 23 billion barrels in Tampico Misantla, home to the Pimienta shale, and 7.3 billion barrels in the Sabinas Burgos.

That is a total of 31 billion barrels worth of prospective resources in terms of exploration and production potential, compared with 6.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent in deep waters, 3.5 billion boe in shallow waters and 1.2 billion boe in onshore conventional reservoirs.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has a somewhat lower estimate, but still puts Mexico's shale resources as among the 10 best in the world, with some 545 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 13.1 billion barrels of oil and condensate.

Meanwhile, the Mexican shale sector has seen the emergence of Vista Oil & Gas, the country's first publicly traded energy company. The company is led by Miguel Galuccio, who led exploration work by Argentina's YPF on the Vaca Muerta shale.

Vista is backed by private equity giant Riverstone and is set up as a special-purpose acquisition company, also known as a blank cheque company, a type of entity that played a key role in fuelling the US shale boom. The intention is for Vista to target companies in Mexico as well as Argentina, Colombia and Brazil.

Also in Mexico, Canadian newcomer Renaissance Oil has continued targeting acreage prospective for shale by farming into Pemex legacy service contracts areas set to be rolled over into new exploration and production contracts.

The company is aiming to apply the expertise of US veterans of the unconventionals sector to the country's Jurassic shales and other unconventional targets such as the Chicontepec formation.

Most recently, it moved for the Pitipec block, consolidating a partnership with CP Latina. That followed an earlier tie-up for the Amatitlan block with Russian player Lukoil.

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