Mexico’s energy reform: Do the numbers add up?

For now, Mexico’s goal of 500,000 bpd looks a long way away.
For now, Mexico’s goal of 500,000 bpd looks a long way away.

By Jude Webber / Financial Times

Mexico’s oil liberalisation is now well under way, with the tender of a second lot of oil assets – nine fields grouped into five blocks – now set to join the 14 already announced. But do the country’s projections for future oil recovery add up?

The government is hoping that private investment in a sector closed for nearly 80 years under the monopoly of state oil company Pemex will succeed in turning around a decade of inexorable decline in Mexico’s oil output. Indeed, it has talked of adding 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) by 2018, when the government’s term is up.

Can it? Low oil prices have already forced the government to admit that it will not be able to offer some of the shale fields that had been among the initial line-up of 169 fields to be tendered this year. As a result, as Miguel Messmacher, income undersecretary, told reporters: “Obviously, lower prices will mean lower income for the Mexican state.” How much lower? No one is clear, yet.

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