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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 106, No. 3 (March 2022), P. 495-516.

Copyright ©2022. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1306/09152121056

Tampico-Misantla: A premier super basin in waiting

Alfredo E. Guzmán1

1Mexico Petroleum Company; [email protected]


When the concept of super basin was proposed by Fryklund and Stark, they originally identified 48 basins (24 of them tier 1) worldwide that met the characteristics to be such considered, being sine qua non that these basins could be rejuvenated and suggested the Permian Basin as the archetype of a super basin.

One basin stands out for having similar characteristics as the Permian Basin; and thus like the Permian Basin has potential to be revitalized—the Tampico-Misantla Basin of eastern central México. The Tampico-Misantla Basin has several legacy oil plays producing since the early 1900s, and two undeveloped unconventional ones: tight oil and shale oil, the same type of reservoirs that allowed the Permian Basin to multiply its oil output by six in less than 10 yr.

The two unconventional plays are the Chicontepec tight oil and the shale oil plays; together, they have potential resources of more than 100 billion BOE in place but are not being developed. Six main legacy conventional plays were the focus of the upstream activity in México until the 1980s, when the basin was all but abandoned after the discovery of the Sureste megaprovince.

Development of the basin’s unconventional resources, together with the exploration of new concepts and technologies and the optimization of its legacy reservoirs, would put México back on the list of the top oil-producing nations.

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