Renaissance Oil Corp. is coming closer to becoming the first shale operator in Mexico’s Tampico-Misantla Basin, an area that could hold at least 23 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) and 5.5 billion barrels (Bbbl) of risked, technically recoverable shale gas and oil. 

Hailed as the second-most attractive shale basin in Mexico behind Burgos, the company aims to position itself in Tampico-Misantla to reap the onshore unconventional benefits.

“There’s many billions of oil in place in our 57,000-acre Amatitlán Block,” said Dan Jarvie, geochemist at Worldwide Geochemistry.

In the past, Pemex mostly focused on the gas potential of the area, but Jarvie has been looking more closely at oil-bearing prospects within Renaissance’s block near Poza Rica in Veracruz. 

“Pemex had two Pimienta wells in the northern Burgos Basin that flowed 10.9 and 12 million cubic feet per day, the Tangram-1 and Cefiro-1, respectively.  As best as I can tell from nearby data, the thermal maturity in the area of these wells is somewhere between 1.5% and 2.5% RO [recoverable oil] , an average guess 2% RO,” he said. 

Even though oil yields may not be equivalent to gas, Jarvie said that if production were 1:1, the wells would mean about 1,800 bbl/d to 2 Mbbl/d. 

“If oil rates were half those amounts, these would be 1 million barrels of oil equivalent [MMboe] [EUR] wells—what we’re hoping for in the Tampico-Misantla Basin. Even though these are gas wells, my keen interest is that this means the Pimienta Formation has retained a lot of petroleum that was then cracked to gas.”

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Additionally, Jarvie said that Pemex’s Coralillo-157 well south of Renaissance’s Amatitlán Block, where initial tests flowed 650 bbl/d out of the Pimienta, brings even more potential. 

“The type curve would suggest that could recover about 300,000 barrels of oil. The key characteristic of it is that it’s a black-oil area with 37 degree API gravity, which aligns with most of the high-quality oil plays in the volatile oil window like the Eagle Ford.”

Jarvie is examining what he refers to as the Upper Jurassic System, which he considers the main source rocks for Tampico-Misantla, East Texas and the deep Gulf of Mexico. 

“Everyone familiar with Mexico talks about the potential of the Pimienta [age equivalent to Bossier Shale], but the Kimmeridgian Taman [age equivalent to Haynesville Shale] and Oxfordian Santiago [age equivalent to Smackover] also have similar potential.”

Mexico’s unconventional development is still far from a reality. But upcoming rounds may bring it closer to fruition. 

Two rounds will offer acreage that could potentially hold riches within Burgos and Tampico-Misantla. The second phase of Round Two will usher in nine areas in Burgos totaling 356.6 MMboe of prospective resources. The third phase is set to offer four Burgos areas with  36 MMboe and one block in Tampico-Misantla with 3 MMboe.

As for the fourth phase, the National Hydrocarbons Commission and the Ministry of Energy have said that additional unconventional areas will be tendered. 
 
Jarvie expects Renaissance to begin drilling at Amatitlán by the end of the year after getting the regulator permits. 

“I think the Upper Jurassic System is going to be a fabulous one, primarily because of the retained oil and the nature of the rock. That’s why were so excited about it,” he said.