A Pemex oil rig ©Getty

International oil companies are “polygamous” by nature, says Iván Sandrea, chief executive of Sierra Oil & Gas, the first Mexican exploration company to be formed since the country’s sweeping reform of the sector to open it to private investment.

So one thing the former Statoil executive is not happy about is the government’s insistence that bidders in the two tenders so far launched can belong to only one consortium. “I’ve never seen this in other countries,” he says. Read more

What’s the one good thing about Mexico’s consumer confidence being poor? It should help prevent the country’s weakening peso from fuelling inflation.

All eyes are on the peso at the moment, after monetary authorities launched a new intervention programme on Wednesday to try to calm volatility and ensure liquidity as the dollar goes from strength to strength. Read more

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 that have already been 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. Read more

Good news: After weeks of political gridlock, Mexico’s three main parties have agreed a framework for a new anti-corruption system. It should be put to a vote in the lower house of Congress this week.

But the devil is in the details. Does it go far enough? Will it get watered down before it comes to a vote? And, the biggest question of all, will it stop corruption?

The jury is out. But before taking a look about what’s good and what should be better, it is worth remembering why Mexico so urgently needs a serious anti-corruption strategy. Corruption has long been an accepted part of life in Mexico. If you start digging, you will find it, says one political analyst – much like how the missing bodies of 43 students in the state of Guerrero has turned up other undiscovered mass graves. Read more

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu

Electricity market regulations may sound dry and complex. But for César Hernández, Mexico’s electricity undersecretary, these regulations will “move us to the type of institutions our country deserves to have”.

The unspoken message: Take that, Alejandro González Iñárritu!

The Mexican director created a domestic storm with his Oscar acceptance speech on Sunday night, in which he said: “I pray that we can build the government we deserve.”

The comment generated a much lampooned response from the ruling PRI party (the tone was “but we already ARE, haven’t you noticed?”) and sparked much Twitter discussion about what Mexico needed and deserved from an unpopular government under fire from conflict-of-interest scandals. Read more

Oil is popularly known as black gold. Now the world’s biggest miner of another shiny precious metal is jumping on Mexico’s ambitious energy reforms to get in on the dirty black stuff.

Alberto Baillères, head of Grupo Bal, which counts silver producer Peñoles y Fresnillo among its companies (as well as upscale department store the Palacio de Hierro), has launched a new oil company, called Petrobal. Read more

Just over a month to go, and Mexican car exports to Argentina and Brazil (which Mexico has overtaken as No. 1 Latin American car maker) should be back on track after a three year system of quotas. That’s the plan, at least.

Or rather, that’s the deal the three countries signed: March 15, 2015 would spell a return to free auto trade. Read more

Pemex, the Mexican state oil company, is being forced to sharpen up its act.

Not only are costs under pressure, so is its reputation. Read more

Bye-bye “primitive” internet banking. Hello smart banking straight from your smartphone. That, at least, is the pitch from Mexico’s Grupo Azteca, part of businessman Ricardo Salinas’s finance, retail and TV empire. Read more

Mexico’s traffic pollution is legendary. So how about a clean, green – and for now, at least, free – solution?

The CFE, the state electricity company, has inaugurated four “electrostations” – recharging stations for electric or hybrid cars – in a partnership with retailer Walmart, carmaker BMW and Schneider Electric, an electricity distribution and management company which has developed (in Mexico) the all-car compatible “plug”. Read more

It might just be total speculation, but persistent rumours that Citigroup wants to dump Banamex, the former star unit that landed it in a sticky fraud last year, seem to have increased a notch.

The latest log on the fire comes from Darío Celis, a columnist at newspaper Excelsior. Nothing has been confirmed by anyone yet, but it’s tempting to linger over his article for a moment.

He reckons five groups are interested in Banamex, Mexico’s second biggest bank – including two prominent – and now out-work, or soon to be so – senior Mexican bankers. Read more

A new year, a newly opening Mexican oil sector … but things are off to a mixed start.

On the less than rosy side, little more than a week into what is supposed to be a year heralding an unprecedented energy investment boom, Pemex, the state oil company, has taken the step of not renewing a host of contracts for oil service workers. Read more

Appearances – and doing the right thing – are very important in Mexico.

So the head of Pemex, the state oil company, looked rather conspicuous by his absence at the launch of the long-awaited tender terms for Mexico’s historic first bidding round, attended by all the other state heavyweights in the industry and a host of corporate executives. Read more

You don’t have to look far to see the impact on Mexico of falling oil prices (now close to a five-year low): just take a look at the trade balance of state giant Pemex . It slumped by half in one month, to $656m in October from $1.3bn in September, and that was before the combination of Mexico’s lower production and lower world prices really began to bite.

So now would be a good time to take a cold look at how much damage falling prices could really do to Mexico as it prepares to open up its oil sector to private investment, what Mexico could do about it, what wider impact that could have, and what the US and the International Monetary Fund could do to help. Read more

Mexico will be able to boost imports of cheap US shale gas by 45 per cent now that the first phase of a major new $2.5bn gas pipeline is up and running, Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s president, said after inaugurating the Los Ramones project.

Pemex, the state oil company, is billing it the “biggest transport infrastructure project in Mexico in the last 40 years”. The pipeline will bring US gas in the first phase to the northern Mexican state of Nuevo León, and when it is fully finished, a year from now, down to the centre of the country, some 1,021km in all. Read more

How far to trust a politician? Often a tricky subject – especially in a country like Mexico, where impunity is rife and many elected representatives appear still to live by the maxim of the late Carlos Hank González, an influential politician and businessman (with a statue to his honour in the city of Toluca), namely: “A politician who is poor is a poor politician.” Read more

Enrique Pena Nieto, governor of the state of MexicoIt was hard to miss the massive demonstrations in Mexico City on Thursday night: tens of thousands of people marched to the main square, the Zócalo, many waving flags with Mexico’s green and white stripes turned black. They were demanding justice in the wake of the apparent murder of 43 students in September that has convulsed the nation. Many chanted from one to 43, then shouted the word “justice”.

Enrique Peña Nieto, the president, clearly heard the call: at a justice forum on Friday, he said: “One of the principal demands of Mexican society is to count on better results in the procurement and implementation of justice.

 Read more

Mexico’s government has bowed to the inevitable and cut its 2014 GDP growth forecast, to between 2.1 and 2.6 per cent this year, despite hailing a pick-up in activity in the third quarter that it said should continue throughout the rest of the year.

No big surprise there – growth has been disappointing all year so the writing has long been on the wall. And indeed owing to a change in methodology (more on this shortly), the government is keeping its options open with a new range-based forecast. For 2015, its estimate is 3.2 to 4.2 per cent. The growth goal for 2015 in the budget was 3.7 per cent.

But is there a silver lining to all these cuts? Read more

All change: After a leadership conflict that sent shares tanking, Mexican bank Banorte, the country’s fourth biggest by loans, has a new chairman and CEO.

Replacing Guillermo Ortiz, a former finance minister and central bank governor, as chairman is Carlos Hank González, grandson of the former controlling shareholder “Don Roberto”. Mr Hank’s ascent was in the works for months and triggered the change of command, while also boosting the family dynasty’s influence over the lender in which it is the largest shareholder. Read more

It might sound like more bureaucracy, not less: Instead of four operating units, Pemex, Mexico’s state oil company, now has two, plus five separate subsidiaries.

However, in a statement to the stock exchange, company officials said its market-oriented reorganisation would bring greater efficiency and transparency as it moves into a new era of competition.

The long-planned restructuring scraps Pemex’s four divisions – exploration and production; refining; petrochemicals; and gas and basic petrochemicals – and replaces them with just two: upstream and downstream, or exploration and production on one hand and industrial transformation on the other. Its five non-core subsidiaries – drilling, logistics, co-generation and services, fertilisers and ethylene – are destined to become affiliate companies in the coming year. Read more