OTC: Mexico implementing energy reforms, stressing transparency

Mexico plans to issue updates on its bidding process on May 15 for its Round 1 fourth bid involving deepwater and ultradeepwater blocks, panelists told a May 3 session of the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

The licenses and production-sharing contracts are being offered as part of Mexico’s energy reform, ending a decades-old monopoly held by Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).

Maria de Lourdes Melgar Palacios, Mexico's undersecretary of hydrocarbons, said 10 blocks will be involved in the deepwater and ultradeepwater bidding, scheduled for Dec. 5. She said 14 companies already have signed up for the process. The bidding is for a 50-year contract, she said.

“Pemex faces the transformation of becoming a state enterprise,” she said, adding the energy reform continues despite the oil price slump, which has caused some delays. “We are on a learning curve,” regarding contracts, a process that also has caused a few delays, Melgar said.

She expects an announcement on Round 2 shallow water blocks by the end of August as well as an announcement on unconventional blocks by yearend.

Melgar emphasized that hydrocarbons in the subsoil still belong to Mexico, which is opening up exploration and production to free-market access and competition between Pemex, a state-owned enterprise, and private companies.

She said Mexico is working to join an international standards of transparency organization for the extractive industry, and she hopes that the membership can be finalized yet this year.

During the now-completed Round Zero, the Mexico government awarded certain assets to Pemex and determined which assets were open to competitive bidding. As part of the reform, Pemex is allowed to partner with companies from outside Mexico (OGJ Online, Sept. 23, 2014).

Christine Healy, Statoil Mexico vice-president of exploration, told the OTC session that Statoil has participated in bidding on Mexico oil and gas blocks but has not yet been successful.

Healy said Statoil is very interested in Mexico, which she described as being relatively underexplored.

“We see more exploration is required in Mexico by international companies along with Pemex,” Healy said, adding Mexico is establishing “a clear and predictable energy policy. I think this is a sign of a clear, robust system.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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