Zama oil field is located approximately 60km off the coast of Tabasco, Mexico, in the Block 7 of Sureste Basin, Gulf of Mexico. Estimated to hold up to two billion barrels of oil-equivalent, it is considered to be one of the world’s biggest shallow-water oil discoveries in the past 20 years.

Operated by Talos Energy, Block 7 is Mexico’s first offshore block to be awarded to a private operator. The development partners of Block 7 include Talos Energy (35%), Sierra Oil and Gas (40%) and Premier Oil (25%).

The Zama oil field was discovered in July 2017. Mexico’s oil and gas regulator National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) approved a $325m budget for appraisal drilling at Zama in September 2018.

The concept and engineering services contract for the oil field development was awarded in November 2018.

The final investment decision (FID) on the project is expected in early-2020.

First oil is expected in 2022 and the offshore field is expected to produce 150,000 barrels of oil-equivalent a day (boed) by 2024, accounting for roughly 10% of Mexico’s total oil production.

Zama discovery and appraisal drilling details

The Zama oil field was discovered in 165m-deep waters with the Zama-1 discovery well, which was drilled up to a depth of 3,383m using the floating drilling rig Ensco 8503.

The Zama-1 well discovered a 335m contiguous oil-bearing interval and encountered up to 200m of net oil pay in Upper Miocene sandstones with no water contact.

The appraisal drilling plan for the offshore field includes drilling of two wells along with a well test and a sidetrack.

Both the appraisal wells will be drilled using the Ensco 8503 floating drilling rig.

The first appraisal well Zama-2 will be drilled to the north of the Zama-1 discovery well to a depth of 500m. The drilling is expected to begin by the end of 2018.

The Zama-2 appraisal well will confirm the oil-water contact in the reservoir and test the Marte reserve prospect, which is believed to contain 150 million barrels of oil-equivalent (Mboe) of recoverable resources.

The second appraisal well, expected to be completed by the end of 2019, will assess the southern part of the Zama field.

Pre-unitization agreement for the Zama oil field development

The Block7 consortium signed a pre-unitization agreement (PUA) with Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company Pemex, which operates the neighboring Amoca-Yaxche-03 area offshore Mexico, in September 2018.

The two-year agreement will facilitate information sharing between the two parties about the Zama field discovery and appraisal and will lead to Unit Agreement in case a shared reservoir is confirmed.

Zama field development plan

The Zama field covering 122,000 acres in the shallow waters of Gulf of Mexico is planned to be developed with three production platforms.

Each production platform is proposed to consist of a single jacket and topsides capable of producing up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day.

The oil produced from the field will be supplied onshore to the Dos Bocas terminal located 70km away from the field through a newly constructed oil pipeline.

Contractors involved

McDermott was awarded the concept and pre-front-end engineering services contract for the Zama field development project in November 2018.

McDermott will execute the contract via io oil and gas consulting, which is a joint venture between McDermott and General Electric’s (GE) subsidiary Baker Hughes (BHGE).