The word “Mexico” brings many images to mind. For some, it’s mariachis and tequila. Others think of good food and beautiful beaches.
For many in the petroleum industry, though, the word “Mexico” means newfound opportunity.
The Mexican Petroleum Congress, scheduled for June 10-13 in Guadalajara, offers a chance to experience that opportunity.
At a time when many industry events are being postponed or are struggling financially, organizers representing Mexico’s petroleum industry associations are preparing for a successful, well-attended event.
Everardo Castro, president of the Mexican Association of Exploration Geophysicists (AMGE) and 2015 Congress executive coordinator, is particularly optimistic.
“We believe that crises are another way to grow stronger, to develop creativity and find opportunities where others do not,” he said. “We believe that where some see restrictions from the low oil price, most see into the future, and the Congress provides the opportunity to be up-to-date and well-positioned when recovery comes.
“The current situation is temporary and cyclical,’ he added, “and it brings enormous opportunities.”
Getting Acquainted With Mexico
The majority of opportunities stem from Mexico’s 2014 Energy Reform, which opened the country’s hydrocarbon industry to private investment for the first time. The first bidding round is under way – and more will follow in coming months.
“Everybody has an eye on Mexico in order to be part of the business opportunities in exploration and exploitation of conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources,” said Ulises Hernández, head of reservoir geology for exploration at the national oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). “There is interest from operators and service companies alike, particularly in times of low petroleum prices.”
Hernández, current president of AAPG affiliate, the Mexican Association of Petroleum Geologists (AMGP), said the Congress is an ideal scenario for networking with potential partners for services, new technologies and joint ventures.
“It is definitely a unique opportunity with excellent timing for all the players in the Mexican oil and gas industry, including those looking for a job or willing to recruit people,” he said.
Sessions will focus on the intricacies of doing business in Mexico, including working with regulators, legal authorities and local communities.
For Hernandez, working in Mexico comes with challenges, though they are not insurmountable.
“I do believe that in most cases, if not all, challenging conditions are harsher in other parts of the world where major and medium-sized companies are actively participating in the local oil industry,” he said.
“One of the first challenges companies are facing is understanding Mexican regulatory framework and contractual terms for the first bidding rounds,” he said. “Once they start operating, particularly onshore, the next challenge will be obtaining the social license to allow them to operate in sensitive areas and meet commitments and goals.”
“Undoubtedly, it’s necessary to know the legal issues governing Mexican law, as well as understanding and empathizing with local communities, respecting their customs and caring for the environment,” he said. “However, in Mexico there are trained personnel with extensive experience in each of the activities inherent in the energy industry.”
In addition to providing a sound technical program for professionals, Congress organizers see the event as a way to develop future industry leaders.
“We believe that the young people who will replace us in the future should be better prepared to face a more competitive environment, from the moment they leave the classroom, and even before,” Castro said.
To that end, the AMGE offers scholarships to outstanding students interested in attending the Congress and has organized the first Student Geollín Geoscience Knowledge Contest as a part of the event.
Hernandez said professional organizations like AAPG and AMGP play an important role in young geoscientists’ professional development.
“Local and global technical events and exhibitions give young professionals the opportunity to keep up with advances in petroleum geoscience and technologies as well as meet key people in the industry and start building a network of contacts that will help them better do their jobs and/or find job opportunities,” he said.
“Active participation also allows them to develop organizational, communication and personnel management skills that might turn out to be essential in their careers.”
Hernandez added that, likewise, students benefit the associations and the industry.
“They provide the means to express and discuss ideas, and access to an up-to-date and historic archive of scientific papers and publications that summarize the evolution and current understanding of petroleum geology in the main petroleum basins of the world,” he said.
Castro added that supporting students and organizing events like the Congress helps professional associations serve their members and their country.
“The AMGE has gained a greater dynamism and commitment to technical excellence. Competitiveness is more important than ever, and our Association is committed to be a bastion of support to our country’s energy development,” he said.
High-ranking members of the Mexican and international petroleum industry will speak in the Congress’s general sessions, which complement a technical program featuring 290 oral session and poster sessions. More than 1,100 operators, service companies and associations will participate in the commercial exhibition.
For Hernandez, attending the Congress in Guadalajara is a perfect opportunity to get connected to the industry in Mexico.
“If you want to be up-to-date with current events going on in Mexico related to the energy reform, bidding rounds, regulation, operators’ points of view, Pemex’s plans for farm-outs, services and leading edge technology as well as be in touch with petroleum industry professionals as potential employees or employers, the Mexican Petroleum Congress is the place to be,” he said.
For Castro, it is appropriate that an historic Congress be held in a historic city.
Guadalajara, named the “Cultural Capital of the Americas” by the Organization of American States, is famous for its architecture, street markets, historical monuments and mariachi music.
The town Tequila, declared a UNESCO world heritage site and birthplace of the famous blue agave drink, is located 60 kilometers from Guadalajara. The Puerta Vallarta beach resort city is a 30-minute flight away.
Tequila and mariachis, beaches and energy. Maybe Mexico really does have it all.