January 2022, Vol. 249, No. 1


Mega-Field of Zama Draws Big Investment in Mexico

By Mauro Nogarin, Contributing Editor  

Although Pemex has yet to present a development plan for the Zama oil field, exploration company Talos Energy (Talos) recently said its value, regardless of operator and equity splits, will be in “multiples of invested capital to date.”  

With a likely production of 150,000 bpd, the most convenient, long-term solution from an economic point of view would be to transport the crude ashore to the nearest refinery. In this case, the 350,000-bpd Dos Bocas facility in Tabasco, Mexico, is under construction, sources said.   

This would require a 44-mile (70-km) subsea pipeline in the Southeast Basin of the Gulf of Mexico.  

The Zama oil field, which was discovered in 2017 by a private consortium led by Talos, contains 1.4 to 2 billion barrels of on-site crude. Preliminary production tests show the oil quality to be between 28- and 30-degrees API, which qualifies it as light oil.  

Under the shared production contract, the consortium signed with the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH), the Mexican government will receive 80% of the value derived from the development of Zama, through the commercialization of hydrocarbons and payment of royalties and taxes.   

As a result, throughout its life cycle, the project could generate $30 billion in total revenues for the Mexican government, in addition to Pemex revenues and other economic factors.   

The consortium has invested about $350 million in Zama and drilled an exploratory well, along with three boundary wells.  

The purpose of the preliminary unit agreement (PUA) as described in a joint statement between Pemex and the consortium, was to allow both parties to share information related to the Zama oil field to assess its size within the Pemex assignment.   

Data obtained by the Talos-led effort, as a result of its exploration and delimitation activities, confirmed the Zama oil field extends from the block operated by Talos to the adjacent Pemex block.   

In compliance with Mexican regulations, the authorities were notified of this situation, which was later confirmed by oil regulator CNH. Based on the CNH analysis, the Ministry of Energy (SENER) instructed the consortium to set up a unit in July 2020, but Talos and Pemex failed to reach a unification agreement.  

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