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Mexico's Cantarell field decline deferred to 2006

The head of exploration and production at Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said Thursday that the decline of the country's biggest oil field has been delayed until 2006.

Pemex formally inaugurated Thursday a new offshore gas compression plant and a new gas processing plant in the Akal complex in Cantarell, Pemex's largest oil field.

Luis Ramirez Corzo, who heads Pemex's exploration and production division, said the two new platforms will obviate the need to send 900 million cubic feet a day of natural gas ashore for processing, only to be sent back as fuel for offshore operations and for re-injection into the deposits.

Pemex raised output at Cantarell with a $10.5 billion, 15-year project begun in 1997 under which it is injecting 1.2 billion cubic feet a day of compressed nitrogen into the deposit to reverse pressure loss.

Cantarell supplies about two thirds of Mexico's 3.4 million barrels a day in crude oil output, producing 2.2 million barrels a day of heavy crude.

Ramirez said Thursday that the decline in Cantarell, originally expected last year, has been delayed until 2006, when the deposits are expected to begin declining at a rate of 14% a year.

Among projects that Pemex hopes will substitute Cantarell production are Ku-Maloob-Zaap, light crude deposits off the coast of Tabasco state, and a project called Golpe Puerto Ceiba that recently began producing, Ramirez added.

The head of exploration and production at Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said Thursday that the decline of the country's biggest oil field has been delayed until 2006.

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