Cantarell offshore rigs, November 2007
|Start of production||1981|
|Peak of production||2004|
|Current production of oil||408,000 barrels per day (~2.03×107 t/a)|
Cantarell Field or Cantarell Complex is an aging supergiant oil field in Mexico. It was discovered in 1976 by a fisherman, Rudesindo Cantarell. It was placed on nitrogen injection in 2000, and production peaked at 2.1 million barrels per day (330,000 m3/d) in 2003. In terms of cumulative production to date, it is by far the largest oil field in Mexico, and one of the largest in the world. However, production has declined since 2003, falling to 408,000 barrels per day (64,900 m3/d) (April 2012), making it Mexico's second most productive oil field after Ku-Maloob-Zaap.
Cantarell is located 80 kilometres (50 mi) offshore in the Bay of Campeche. This complex comprises four major fields: Akal (by far the largest), Nohoch, Chac and Kutz. The reservoirs are formed from carbonate breccia of Upper Cretaceous age, the rubble from the asteroid impact that created the Chicxulub Crater. The recently discovered Sihil (1-15,000 million barrels) contains light oil in Jurassic strata below the other reservoirs and is generally referred to as a separate field, although its development will obviously benefit from the infrastructure already in place above it. Cantarell's oil production peaked in 2004 and has declined in subsequent years, with further decline expected in the future.
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The first field was discovered in 1976 by Rudesindo Cantarell, Sr., a fisherman who complained that the oil seepage was ruining his fishing nets. PEMEX, the national oil company of Mexico, finally investigated it and found the oil deposit.
The Cantarell Field's porosity - or holes in the rock where the oil is located - is believed to be the result of a rubble pile from an asteroid strike that took place some 65 million years ago. This asteroid, which led to the formation of what has become known as the Chicxulub Crater on the Yucatán Peninsula, is thought to have been 6 miles (9.7 km) in diameter. Many scientists[who?] attribute this particular asteroid strike as being the “extinction event” that took out the dinosaurs. The impact energy from the strike is believed to have been some 2 million times that of the largest man-made explosion, that of the Tsar Bomba, a 50 megaton hydrogen device set off by Russia in 1961.
By 1981 the Cantarell complex was producing 1.16 million barrels per day (180,000 m3/d). However, the production rate dropped to 1 million barrels per day (160,000 m3/d) in 1995. The nitrogen injection project started operating in 2000, and it increased the production rate to 1.6 million barrels per day (250,000 m3/d), to 1.9 million barrels per day (300,000 m3/d) in 2002 and to 2.1 million barrels per day (330,000 m3/d) of output in 2003, which ranked Cantarell the second fastest producing oil field in the world behind Ghawar Field in Saudi Arabia. However, Cantarell had much smaller oil reserves than Ghawar, so production began to decline rapidly in the second half of the decade.
Production decline 
Luis Ramírez Corzo, head of PEMEX's exploration and production division, announced on August 12, 2004 that the actual oil output from Cantarell was forecast to decline steeply from 2006 onwards, at a rate of 14% per year. In March 2006 it was reported that Cantarell had already peaked, with a second year of declining production in 2005. For 2006, the field's output declined by 13.1%, according to Jesús Reyes Heróles, the director-general of PEMEX.
In July 2008, daily production rate fell sharply by 36% to 973,668 barrels per day (155,000 m3/d) from 1.526 million barrels per day (243×103 m3/d) a year earlier. Analysts theorize that this rapid decline is a result of production enhancement techniques causing faster short-term oil extraction at the expense of field longevity. By January 2009, oil production at Cantarell had fallen to 772,000 barrels per day (123,000 m3/d), a drop in production of 38% for the year, resulting in a drop in total Mexican oil production of 9.2%, the fifth year in a row of declining Mexican production.
In 2008, Pemex expected Cantarell's decline to continue to 2012 and eventually stabilizing at an output level of around 500,000 barrels per day (80,000 m3/d). By September 2009 this figure was already achieved, marking one of the most dramatic declines ever seen in the oil industry. Production is now expected to stabilize at 400,000 barrels per day (60,000 m3/d). However the production had fallen to 408,000 barrels per day (60,000 m3/d) by April 2012. The shortfall is having a negative effect on Mexico's annual government budget and sovereign-credit rating.
In order to try to maintain heavy crude production in the Bay of Campeche, PEMEX is focusing its efforts on the development of the Ku-Maloob-Zaap complex in an adjacent area, which can be connected to the existing facilities of Cantarell. Ku-Maloob-Zaap complex is expected to produce 0.8 million barrels per day (130,000 m3/d) by the end of decade. In 2009, Ku-Maloob-Zaap replaced Cantarell as Mexico's most productive oil field.
See also 
- http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20101110-722330.html (Apr 2012)
- Andres R. Martinez; Carlos M. Rodriguez (2009-02-22). "Pemex’s Cantarell Drops at Fastest Rate in 14 Years". Bloomberg.
- Marla Dickerson (2007-02-08). "Production decline worsens at Mexico's biggest oil field". L.A. Times.
- Tom Standing (2006-10-09). "Mexico's Cantarell field: how long will it last?". Energy Bulletin.
- Elizabeth Malkin (2007-02-08). "Mexico: Pemex Oil Field Declining". NY Times.
- Thomas Black (2008-08-28). "Pemex Cantarell to Stabilize at 500,000 Barrels a Day". Bloomberg.
- David Luhnow (16-09-2009). "Mexico's fading oil output squeezes exports, spending". Dow Jones Newswires. Rig Zone. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
- Fernando Pérez Corona (2012-05-24). "Alcanza Pemex en Chicontepec récord histórico de producción diaria(Spanish". e-consulta.com.
- Peak Oil is Now Official by Trey Shaughnessy, 18 March 2006.
- Mexico Oil Production going down January 2007
- Cantarell main data
- Rigzone Article on Decline
- Cantarell is Dying (Article)
- Cantarell History and FACTS Pemex
- Cantarell Oilfield Key Data & Images