Eni gains Mexico OK for exploration well that could form country’s first private oil, gas cluster

Yopaat is one of the three wells Eni Mexico is considering to develop an oil and natural gas production cluster in the area with projects that may not be viable on their own, but which could be commercially attractive if developed together. For the cluster, Eni is considering Yopaat and two others from the adjacent Area 10 also operated by the Italian firm, Saasken and Saasil, where the company struck oil. The drilling of Saasil was authorized in late January; Saaskem is already being appraised.

Eni will drill and terminate Yopaat 1 from mid-May to late July, the CNH said during its weekly meeting. The company also considers drilling a side-track under an alternative scenario, which could be drilled from July to August.

The area is one of the busiest in exploration activity in Mexico with Repsol already having two discoveries: Polok and Chinwol, in the adjacent block to the north, known as Area 29 discovered in 2020. Repsol has renounced its rights to five other blocks to concentrate its efforts on Area 29, where it plans to drill up to three more wells. At Area 29, Repsol plans to operate a floating production, storage and offloading vessel.

According to CNH, the FPSO is part of the infrastructure that can be shared. Zama, one of the most important discoveries in the country, is also in the area. Zama, operated by Pemex but discovered by Talos Energy, has been estimated to hold almost 700 million barrels of light crude, according to early estimates. The field is expected to yield as much as 150,000 b/d when it peaks and it will be one of the main private contributors to national production.Eni’s move to develop clusters is backed by the industry, which has been facing increased scrutiny and regulation.

The National Association of Hydrocarbon Companies, or AMEXHI, has noted that cooperation and sharing of infrastructure is one way to compensate for the lack of new auctions for additional blocks to continue the exploration of the resources identified in Mexico.Upon taking office, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador cancelled the upstream auctions that his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto started, which resulted in over 100 exploration and production contracts, many of which include Pemex.

According to the National Hydrocarbons Commission, or CNH, there are currently over 110 billion boe in prospective resources in Mexico, of which only 52 billion have been assigned for exploration, with Pemex holding 40 billion of those. The total crude production of Mexico since it began its oil industry around 1938 has been roughly 60 billion boe, according to CNH.