Mexico ends nationalised industry oilfield monopoly


The Shell operated Perdido offshore oil drilling and production platform. Photo courtesy of Shell.

Oil majors are poised for a drive into the Mexican deep water oilfields as the government ends the 76 year old state monopoly of oil and gas exploration and development.


Mexico will put some oilfields out to tender next year after state oil company Pemex has been allowed to pick at least some of the fields it will be able to retain rights to. The fields likely to be released and are of most interest to international oil majors are thought to include parts of the ultra deep water Perdido Fold Belt, some heavy oilfields and parts of the technically challenging Chicontepec formation.


Mexico has an estimated 160Bn barrels of oil equivalent in proven, probable and prospective reserves and resources across offshore oil and gas and shale oil and gas. There is 86.8Bn barrels of prospective resources in deep water and in unconventional oil and gas like shale, as well as 28Bn in traditional resources.


Pemex wants to retain rights to some 97% of proven reserves, 83% of probable and proven, or 2P, reserves, and 71% of reserves classified as proven, probable and possible, known as 3P reserves.


This ‘wishlist’ has been submitted to the government which will rule on what Pemex can keep by September, but individual fields could be released for development before that to allow Pemex to maintain a viable pipeline of projects.


The decision on Perdido is likely to generate the most interest from the international oil majors as it seems certain that at least some parts of it will be released to the private sector. The field is near the Great White Field on the United States side of the Gulf of Mexico, already under development by Chevron, Shell and BP. The existing Shell operated Perdido offshore oil drilling and production platform is the world’s deepest at 2,450 metres and has been in production for four years.


Pemex is thought to be less interested in retaining some extra heavy oilfields as it lacks the expertise – which several oil majors do have - to develop them. The Mexican government said it was possible that Pemex would be asked to take on some developments that do not appear on its wish list.