Chicontepec Formation

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Chicontepec Formation
Country Mexico
Region Veracruz
Operator Pemex
Field history
Discovery 1926
Estimated oil in place 139,000 million barrels (~1.90×10^10 t)
Recoverable oil 19,000 million barrels (~2.6×10^9 t)

The Chicontepec Basin (Chicontepec Formation) is a petroleum system in Mexico north-east of Mexico City, covering an area of around 3,800 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi) in the states of Veracruz, Puebla and Hidalgo. Several oil fields have been discovered in that area since 1926. A major field was discovered in 1973 but contains extra heavy crude[dubious ], which due to special refining needs is considered unviable at this time. Since that time, tiny amounts of oil have been produced.[1] While the reserves are overwhelmingly extra heavy crude, pockets of lighter tight oil, as well as natural gas, are also found in the basin.[2]


Chicontepec Basin contains Mexico's largest certified hydrocarbon reserve, totaling more than 19 billion barrels (3.0×10^9 m3) of oil equivalent[citation needed] with original oil in place of over 139 billion barrels (22.1×10^9 m3) of oil equivalent; recovery is complicated by challenging, low recovery rate reservoirs, but is made more attractive due to the presence of light and super-light crude oil.[3] In 2003, PEMEX said it could take total investment of $30 billion over 15 years to fully develop Mexico's oil and gas reserves in the Chicontepec Basin. The project would require drilling 13,500 wells in the basin, much more than the total number of oil wells now producing in the country.[4] This situation is interesting as the oil wells would be numerous and small. It would be necessary to get permission to drill from the communities on the surface. Fortunes might be made by private firms in the pre-exploratory negotiating phase.

In addition to being economically and technically challenging, the basin's development also faces political difficulty, because the overlying land surface is densely populated,[5] and inhabited by the Otomi people. Despite these difficulties, Pemex urgently needs production from Chicontepec to offset the rapid production decline in its main offshore field, Cantarell.

Attempts at increasing output[edit]

In March 2006, Mexican President Vicente Fox announced that Pemex would invest US$37.5 billion over the next 20 years on the oil fields of Chicontepec. It was hoped that this will boost output to 1 million barrels per day (160×10^3 m3/d). Pemex's chief executive estimates that 20,000 wells are to be drilled in order to exploit this field.

Intensive drilling has taken place in Chicontepec in recent years, starting with a contract for 500 new wells offered in December 2008.[6] However, results in terms of output have been disappointing, with the field still yielding a modest 68,000 barrels per day (10,800 m3/d) in May 2012.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ About 2500 b/d in 2002 according to Archived 2 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ World oil, Nov. 2001 Vol. 222 No 11
  3. ^
  4. ^ Sergio Solache, 17 February 2007, Arizona Republic, claims that "Pemex now has more than 5,000 wells in production"
  5. ^ Gov´t strives to save oil field - El Universal - Mexico News
  6. ^ Mexico seeks bids for 500 Chicontepec oil wells
  7. ^ Fernando Pérez Corona (2012-05-24). "Alcanza Pemex en Chicontepec récord histórico de producción diaria(Spanish".