Mexico postpones oil tenders until after López Obrador takes office
Mexico has postponed two scheduled oil auctions and a tender to find joint-venture partners for state oil company Pemex that had been due in September and October until next February, after incoming President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he wanted to review contracts and assess the future pace of tenders, the head of Mexico’s oil regulator said.
“In the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH), we think it’s a good idea to give the new administration time to revise the content of the contracts to be tendered and the tender process,” Juan Carlos Zepeda, CNH president, told the FT.
“[The incoming government] has said publicly that it wants to revise the percentage of national content,” he added.
The new date for all three planned auctions is February 14.
Mexico had originally been due on September 27 to tender 37 onshore fields in the Burgos basin in Northern Mexico and the Tampico-Misantla-Veracruz and Southeast Basins on the Gulf of Mexico which are seen as potentially very rewarding.
Thirteen companies – mostly Mexican firms but including Deutsche Erdoel of Germany and Chile-based Geopark – have bought access to the data room for the 37 onshore fields.
Nine shale fields – the first shale tender in Mexico – were also supposed to be up for grabs on the same day, but the terms had not yet been announced amid scant investor interest.
In addition, Mexico had been due on October 31, to select joint-venture partners for Pemex in seven onshore fields in the southern states of Tabasco, Veracruz and Chiapas.
Mexico has awarded more than 100 contracts, attracting as much as $200bn in investment from companies including all the oil majors and Chinese firms, since opening the oil sector that was nationalised in 1938 to private investment under a landmark 2013 reform.
Mr López Obrador, however, says he wants to go through the contracts with a fine toothed comb to make sure they are corruption-free.
Alfonso Romo, the incoming cabinet chief, has said he hopes to have the contracts assessed and a plan for future tenders worked out by November to give certainty to investors. The new team takes office on December 1.
However Carlos Urzúa, incoming finance minister, said that oil companies should bide their time. “My suggestion is that they wait and see and maybe invest somewhere else for a time,” he told the FT in an interview last month.
Alberto Montoya Martín del Campo, an academic who has been proposed by incoming Energy Minister Rocío Nahle to become hydrocarbons undersecretary, has praised Venezuela and Bolivia. In 2012, he wrote that the energy reform would “subordinate policy and the energy industry to global companies and lead Mexico to become a colony dependent on foreign powers”.
Mr López Obrador, who wants to ramp up production and build two new refineries saying that to produce oil but import gasoline is like growing oranges but importing orange juice, has yet to say who will be head of Pemex in his administration. Pemex, which has been struggling to lift production off four-decades lows, reports first-quarter results next week.
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