Course at PKM, Reynosa, Mexico, July 2017

Course at PKM, Reynosa, Mexico, 10th to 14th July 2017

This time I headed to Mexico to conduct a course on ‘Seismic Attributes for Reservoir Characterization’ that I conducted on the PetroSkills platform, for PKM (Petroleum Knowledge and Management) at Reynosa, Mexico. PKM is a Mexican company that offers a range of services including conducting various types of courses as well as providing consulting services to their clients, wherein services of world class experts are brought to collaborate with client geoscientists for different projects. The PKM courses are conducted in geophysics, geology, oil exploration and production, drilling, etc. All these activities help bring quality and value to their clients.

Reynosa is a border city in Mexico with a population of close to 700,000, and just 16 km south of McAllen, Texas. McAllen is located at the southern tip of Texas and has a population of close to 130,000. The NAFTA agreement between the two countries has led to a boom in international trade and cross-border commerce between the two countries.

As part of my itinerary, I took off from Calgary on Saturday (8th July, 2017) afternoon, and flew into Houston. The YYC Calgary International Airport was opened for service in October 2016, and the arrival and departure of all international flights now take place there. It is spacious, clean, modern glassy construction with numerous kiosks, with lots of light, many restaurants and shopping points.

It was a clear afternoon as our flight departed from Calgary, and after 4 hours we landed in Houston.

After a stopover of one-and-a-half hours at Houston, I took my next short flight (one-hour duration) to McAllen and reached there at 10 pm or so. I stayed overnight at Courtyard Hotel close to the airport, and was picked up at noon the following day by Roberto Figueroa Abarca, who is the owner of PKM, and runs the show. Roberto took me over to Reynosa, and on the way, he also picked up his wife, Karin, and their son, whom he had dropped off for shopping on his incoming trip. I had expected some immigration formalities at the Mexican border, but to my surprise it was a smooth ride without any passport checking. The officer at the checkpoint just asked who I was and let us through.

It was a short 30-minute ride from Courtyard Hotel at McAllen to Holiday Inn Hotel at Reynosa, where I stayed for the next 5 days. The temperature had soared to 36o Celsius and remained so through the week. Hotel Holiday Inn has undergone a complete renovation, and looked very neat and clean, with everything new around. The restaurant in the hotel is very good and caters to all food that one can ask for, with the staff that is friendly and helps the non-Spanish speaking clients like me with the language as well.

PKM had arranged my course at their new premises at Plaza 270, and it was the inaugural course for the facility, which has a spacious lecture room, with modern furniture and electrical installation, a breakfast/lunch room, a sitting area, in addition to the reception. The air conditioning helped us remain comfortable indoors, despite the soaring heat outside. Every morning, I was picked up from the hotel and taken to the PKM facility, and again in the evening given a ride back to the hotel.

Of the 16 participants in my course 14 were from PEMEX and 2 from IHSA, mostly geophysicists and three geologists. There was a mix of experience in the class, ranging from some with a few years, to others with close to 15 years, and the remaining with over 30 years. As most of the folks were only conversant in Spanish language, the services of a professional simultaneous interpreter in that language had been arranged. Renaldo ? did a good job for being my Spanish voice, and also helping me understand the questions in English language, which were posed throughout my course.

The participants were very enthusiastic to learn about seismic attribute applications that they could benefit from, so that they could apply them to their projects. Mexicans are very polite and respectful people, and their warmth is reflected in the way they interact with you, and in my context, I say this for both the participants and my hosts.

The participants did apprise me of the challenges that they face in their work; these ranged from the type of data needed to do an accurate job in terms of calibration, to performing quantitative interpretation. However, the one impression that I did come away with is that PEMEX still needs to train their workforce with the more recent interpretation practices that are being followed elsewhere in North America, Europe and Asia. Not much is being is done in this direction at present. May be this feedback will be conveyed by the participants to the managers at PEMEX.

The 5 days for my course flew by fast and looks like the participants enjoyed it as much as I did teaching it.

Roberto dropped me at McAllen on Friday evening, and this time it was the immigration check while coming to the US. There was a long queue of cars at the check point, and it took us over 45 minutes to reach that point. The officer asked for my passport, as well as the usual questions as to where I was coming from, why I was entering the US, etc. It was a short conversation, after which we were on our way to Courtyard Hotel close to the airport at McAllen. I bid good bye to Roberto there, and thanked him for being an excelled host.

Early next morning, I took my flight to Houston, and after an hour-long halt there boarded my next flight to Calgary. It was a clear day and the flight was smooth for the most part, except close to Calgary, where it was windy and we experienced some turbulence. As we descended in the Calgary area, the greenery on the ground was a pleasant sight, and a reminder that we, the Calgarians, are going through the summer.

Somewhere along the flight, probably over Wyoming, I could click a few pictures of the landscape below, when I saw some mountain ranges, high plains, and deep canyons below. It was indeed a spectacular sight.

My week-long trip was about to end on a very pleasant note, but it was not meant to be like that. The taxi that I hired from Calgary airport to get back home, covered most of the way, and then collided into an SUV waiting at the red lights. I am not sure what the driver was thinking. I believe he was distracted, and if I had not cautioned him about the SUV up in front, he would have collided with it with the 60 kmph speed that he was travelling, and the impact could have been disastrous. The taxi was badly damaged, but fortunately, both the driver and I were not hurt. I got a couple of scratches on my knee, and my biceps and triceps are still in pain. Probably, my reflexes triggered my arms to resist the impact of the collision.

I was glad to get back home and be with my family.