Cantarell field is the largest oil field in México and the sixth largest in the world. Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is undertaking a major upgrade and expansion of the Cantarell oil field in the Gulf of Mexico in order to increase crude oil production, more fully utilize gas, and improve the reliability and operational safety of existing facilities.

This paper describes the installation of over 400 kilometers of new pipelines, an important component of the upgrade and expansion in support of the operating objectives of the Cantarell field.

Introduction to Cantarell

The Cantarell field, located about 80 kilometers (km) offshore of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Bay of Campeche, Mexico (see Figure 1: Location of Cantarell Oil Field), is the largest oil field in Mexico. Typical water depths in the Cantarell field range from 35 meters in the south to 40 meters in the north.

The Cantarell field is composed of four major fields: Akal, Nohoch, Chac, and Kutz, in addition to the reserves in the newly discovered deeper Sihil Field. Cantarell's largest reservoir, the Akal field, is considered the sixth largest reservoir in the world.

Over the past 20 years, reservoir pressure within the Cantarell field has declined by more than 60 percent (see Figure 2: Reservoir Pressure and Oil Production Over Time), leading to numerous operational difficulties in sustaining the target oil production rate, including falling well fluid levels and increased need for lift gas.

In addition to overcoming impacts from falling reservoir pressure, Pemex wanted to accomplish several key objectives:

  • increase the reserves,

  • more than double oil production,

  • utilize all gas by adding sufficient compression and process capacity, and

  • modernize the existing facilities to improve operational safety and efficiency.

The program to do so has resulted in several major concurrent, integrated projects of unprecedented size and complexity, which together have created the largest offshore expansion of its type in the world. Major components of the Cantarell project include:

  • modernizing 39 existing platforms and constructing 26 new main platforms to increase oil and gas production and handling capacity,

  • developing two new complexes (Akal L and B),

  • building a floating storage/offloading facility for oil production handling,

  • building the largest nitrogen generation plant in the world to supply 1,200 million standard cubic feet per day (mmscf/d) of nitrogen gas to pressurize the oil reservoir,

  • increasing gas handling capacity,

  • building offshore gas treating platforms to generate lift gas,

  • modernizing Akal C to increase its gas compression and processing facilities to generate lift gas offshore,

  • modernizing the safety and control systems of all existing platforms and complexes, and

  • laying more than 400 km of subsea pipelines to augment the existing 1,700 km network.

This technical paper describes the construction of the additional subsea pipelines to support the operating objectives of the Cantarell field. A previous technical paper (Reference 1) provides information on engineering design and procurement aspects of the new pipeline network.

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