Emerson Exchange

Pemex resurrects oil platform with increased production

Mexican oil producer turns to Emerson for fast-track recovery.

By Mike Bacidore


When the Abkatun-A permanent platform exploded and collapsed in April 2015, the operator, Mexican state energy company Pemex, couldn’t get it back into production quickly enough.

“Abkatun-A platform was built in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1980s,” explained Ana Matute Portillo, Emerson marketing communications manager in the region. “The oil complex of six integrated platforms is 80 km off the coast of Carmen in Campeche. The production capacity is 380,000 bbl/day of light oil and 250,000 bbl/day of heavy oil, along with 630 million standard cubic feet/day of sour gas.”

Mexico is the world’s tenth largest oil producer, and when the Abkatun-A platform went dark, Pemex deferred 220,000 bbl/day of oil. “Stopped production has a cost of $8 million/day, or $240 million/month,” explained Portillo at the Emerson Global Users Exchange this week in Austin, Texas.

“Around this complex, there are many field productions,” explained Fernando Mirafuentes, solutions manager, Emerson. “A lot of pipelines converge to the complex. The production is collected at the linking platform and sent to the temporary platform and then to the permanent platform where there’s a separation of oil and gas. This platform is capable of pumping 750,000 bbl/day of oil. The challenge to rebuild the platform was incredible.”

Pemex needed to get the platform back in production and targeted December 2015 as the date, but it also wanted to increase production with the rebuild. “Pemex had two different concerns—to restart production and to increase production. And July 2015 was when the bidding process started.”

The operator wanted to restart the entire platform at the same time and not receive single parts of the solution at different times. “The scope included supply, installation and startup,” explained Mirafuentes. “They preferred one company to supply the whole solution for automation, system and safety in one package. The challenge was not easy.”

Two competitors had an installed base in the complex. “They had three companies participating in the bidding—Invensys, Emerson Automation Solutions and Rockwell Automation,” said Portillo. “Pemex was looking not only for product, but for a supplier that could work with them in a super-short period of time. They were looking for a company with experience.”

Emerson was assigned the automation and given just three months to execute. “We provided and executed the entire project,” explained Portillo. “When restarting the platform, we also established the basis for increasing production.”

In the first phase of the project, the instrumentation was integrated in the factory. “The scope was to supply systems, supply DCS instrumentation, supply fire & gas instrumentation, supply emergency shutdown (ESD) instrumentation and install, commission and start up,” explained Mirafuentes. “The second phase was an extension of project. The real challenge was the installation in the field.”

This solution was only for the permanent platform. But in Phase III Pemex wanted to replicate the system on all platforms in the Abkatun Complex.

“We were able to restart operations in 70 days, even though the schedule was for 90,” said Portillo. “The investment was paid off in a few hours. As a result of the rehabilitation, they implemented a new separator and Pemex was able to increase production to 30,000 bbl/day.”

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