The flurry of bidding activity from oil and gas companies willing to shell out millions of dollars for drilling rights in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) during Mexico’s latest bidding round showed there must still be something special about the Sureste (Southeast) Basin.
“I’ve never seen a structure like it in my career,” Mark Shann, subsurface director for Sierra Oil and Gas, said of Sureste during the AAPG’s recent Global Super Basins Leadership conference.
The multiplay basin, which includes prolific sub-basins such as Sonda de Campeche and Chiapas-Tabasco, spans about 65,000 sq km and is believed to hold 50 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the GoM’s shallow water and beyond. Its oil-prone prowess gained prominence in 1976 with Mexico’s game-changing Cantarell oil field discovery. Since then the basin has served as the main hydrocarbon-bearing province for Mexico, which is working to reverse declining production with global players eagerly chomping at the bit in search of oil.
The historic Zama discovery made in 2017 by a Talos Energy-led consortium that includes Sierra and Premier Oil and another discovery—Amoca—by Italy’s Eni in 2017 have kept the basin in the spotlight, indicating it still has more to give. The Zama well, the first well drilled by the private sector since Mexico opened its doors to foreign investors, hit 170 m to 200 m (558 ft to 656 ft) of net oil pay in Upper Miocene sandstones. Initial gross original oil in place estimates ranged from 1.4 billion barrels (Bbbl) to 2 Bbbl.
Some would call it the rebirth of a super basin.
Shann said the basin—along with neighboring Tampico-Misantla—has all the qualities of a super basin.
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