International Frontier Upholds its First-mover Advantage in Mexico’s Energy Reform
International Frontier Resources (“IFR”) was early to identify the oil and gas opportunities offered by Mexico’s historic energy reform. IFR, through its joint venture (JV) Tonalli Energia (“Tonalli”), has now achieved its initial goals, in partnership with Mexican petrochemical leader Grupo IDESA S.A. de CV ("Grupo IDESA").
This strategic JV enabled IFR to be the first foreign company to:
Through its JV with Grupo IDESA, IFR became one of the first foreign companies to participate in Mexico’s energy reform in the first bid round of the onshore blocks (“Round 1.3”). Moreover, it was one of the first foreign companies to be awarded an onshore oil and gas development block through a license contract.
The Tecolutla Block
On May 12, 2016, Tonalli Energia was notified by the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) that it had been awarded Block 24 (“Tecolutla block”) in Round 1.3, with an incremental royalty of 31.22%. Tonalli's royalty was modeled to allow for a competitive rate of return and compares favourably to royalties for other winning bids. On 10 of the 25 blocks, the incremental royalty was more than 60% with three of these blocks having incremental royalties in excess of 80%.
The Tecolutla block is a 7.2 km2 block in the Tampico-Misantla Basin located within the state of Veracruz. In 2017, IHS Markit identified Tampico-Misantla as a potential “Super Basin.” The producing carbonate oil reservoir in the Tecolutla block is the El Abra formation.
3D seismic has been acquired over the entire block and seven existing vertical wells have been drilled by PEMEX to bring the field into production. Since reaching total depth, Tonalli has utilized modern well logs from TEC-10 to perform a pre-stack depth migration of the 3D seismic volume ("PSDM Seismic") to give a more precise image of the top of the El Abra. The PSDM Seismic has resulted in a clearer image of the reef edge, which matches Tonalli’s original interpretation of the reef edge and confirms the areal extent of the reef.
Like many oil and gas fields in Mexico, International Frontier's technical team believes oil production from Tecolutla has yet to be optimized. To execute the plan, the team intends to deploy advanced carbonate drilling, completion, stimulation and recompletion techniques at the Tecolutla block.
Tecolutla Development Planning Underway;
Partnering to be the Next Energy Leader in Mexico
IFR, through its Mexican subsidiary Petrofrontera, and Grupo IDESA formed a 50/50 joint venture company in Mexico "Tonalli Energia, S.A.P.I de C.V."
This agreement and formation of Tonalli Energia represented a significant milestone for IFR, allowing the company to enter the Mexican oil and gas industry in partnership with a leading Mexican downstream corporation. IFR believes that the combined strengths of the JV partners are complementary in the pursuit of building a successful exploration and production company.
Future Bid Rounds
IFR has the opportunity to acquire new assets in the upcoming bid rounds and PEMEX farmouts.
Through its JV, IFR has now entered the largest onshore bid round of the energy reform. Tonalli has been granted access to the data room for the second tender of Round 3 (“Round 3.2”) of Mexico’s energy reform by CNH. Please see the news release of May 9, 2018.
Round 3.2 encompasses 37 onshore conventional blocks including 21 blocks in the Burgos region in Tamaulipas, nine in the Tampico-Misantla Veracruz region and seven in the southeastern Mexico, Tabasco and Campeche areas. As of mid-May, eight companies had initiated the prequalification process and 12 companies had expressed interest in participating in Round 3.2.
The minimum balance sheet requirement for participating in Round 3.2 is US$100 million. These blocks collectively cover 9,513 km2 with prospective resources of approximately 260 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) including wet and dry gas, and light oil.
The third tender of Round Three (“Round 3.3”) will be the first bid round to award licenses for onshore unconventional fields since the energy reform. Round 3.3 is comprised of nine unconventional blocks for exploration and production, which are located in the Burgos Region in Tamaulipas, covering 2,704 km2 collectively, with prospective resources of approximately 1,214 million boe. Rounds 3.2 and 3.3 are both scheduled to occur on February 14, 2019.
PEMEX’s Ogarrio and Cardenas-Mora farmouts to foreign oil companies. PEMEX hopes to boost production on these fields from 11,750 boe/d to 29,000 boe/d in the short-term. CNH has said that current clusters on auction have extraction costs as low as US$7.
The PEMEX farmout is also scheduled to occur on February 14, 2019. This farmout is expected to increase oil and gas output aggressively across seven mature fields by 2020. The seven onshore clusters are in southern Mexico and are composed of exploration areas and mature fields with as many as 45 years of operating history. These clusters include Artesa, Juspi-Teotleco, Giraldas-Sunuapa, Bedel-Gasifero, Bacal-Nelash, Cinco Presidentes and Lacamango.