Pemex

Ever pragmatic, the boss of Pemex, Mexico’s revamping state oil company, knows the first barrels of oil extracted from the enticing deepwater prospects in the Gulf of Mexico under the country’s historic energy reform will probably be processed and shipped through existing US infrastructure.

But don’t be tempted to think that Pemex is taking its eye off Asia. 

Full marks for Enrique Peña Nieto: the Mexican president’s energy reform is in the bag, so it’s full speed ahead now to cheaper energy, faster growth, higher investment and more jobs, right?

That’s the plan, and Mexico certainly looks to be on track – indeed, the government is so aware that it has not a moment to lose that with the ink barely dry on the legislation, it was already announcing what private investors could look forward to bidding for as the sector is opened up for the first time since 1938. 

After what has felt like an endless waiting game, Mexico’s energy reform is finally entering the home straight.

This weekend Senate members approved key bills to govern the new-look hydrocarbons sector, as well as the energy sector and the state utility, CFE, and oil company, Pemex, that will lose their monopolies under the sweeping reform. There is just one section still to be passed

As secondary legislation to enact Mexico’s historic energy reform chugs through Congress and the clock ticks towards a December 2015 deadline for state oil company, Pemex, to be transformed into a “state productive enterprise”, a new report from the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) makes for interesting reading.

The think-tank has studied a dozen national oil companies and distilled its findings into key recommendations. Pemex, a company about to discover competition as its nearly eight-decades-old monopoly on the sector is flung open, currently hands over the bulk of its revenues to the state in the form of taxes, and will face the challenge of how to invest like a private company while still propping up the state for years to come (the government says a transition to a lower tax burden will take a decade). 

Mexico’s interest in boosting trade ties with China has long been clear, and the country’s historic energy reform is clearly a golden opportunity.

So it should perhaps come as no surprise that Pemex, the state oil company, is negotiating an investment fund to finance Pemex infrastructure projects with China, to be called the Sino-Mex Energy Fund. 

Never mind all that “three amigos” stuff. A potential energy pipeline from Canada to the US could help those two Nafta members, but not the other, Mexico.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline could spell bad news for Mexican oil company Pemex, which is losing its monopoly at home and is currently the third biggest crude exporter to the US. 

Oil companies hoping that by March 21 they might have clues as to which oil and gasfields may be up for grabs in Mexico should not get their hopes up too high.

Pemex, the state company which is having its 75-year-old monopoly opened up to private competition in a historic reform, will face a new competitive environment. And that means learning to keep corporate secrets, it says. 

The 11th in our series of guest posts on the outlook for 2014 is by Duncan Wood and Christopher Wilson of the Wilson Center

We will look back on 2013 as a truly historic year for Mexico. The scale of the reform process that was undertaken and largely achieved by President Enrique Peña Nieto is astonishing by comparison not only with other countries around the world today, but also in the context of recent Mexican history. For 15 years Mexico had seemed condemned to endure one of the less palatable elements of democratic systems, legislative gridlock. However President Peña Nieto, through a combination of determination, hard bargaining and political skill, has managed to work with the congress to pass a series of major reforms that do much to put Mexico on the road to modernity and competitiveness. 

By Jason Marczak and Peter Schechter of the Atlantic Council

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto capped a year of reform with a final act that far exceeded expectations of the 47-year-old leader’s first year. Energy reform, passed by the Senate and Chamber of Deputies last week, will end a 75-year policy prohibiting private investment in the country’s hydrocarbons sector. Some estimate that the reform will add an additional 2 percent to Mexico’s economy by 2025. 

Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s president, has pulled a rabbit out of the hat. If all he wanted for Christmas was energy reform, well, Santa looks to have come early.

Just a few days ago, Senators were struggling to get together to thrash out details of the country’s sweeping energy reform and there was talk of having to extend sessions beyond December 15, when legislators break for the holidays. 

Pemex refinery in Tula, Hidalog statePemex, Mexico’s state oil company, has strenuously denied a report in Spain’s ABC newspaper which had said it was looking to team up with Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim to buy 10 per cent of Spanish oil group Repsol (Pemex already has 9.3 per cent) – all as part of a strategy to oust Repsol chief Antonio Brufau. The report cited ‘unnamed sources’.

Both sides are denying the deal. But boy, there’s a lot of media chatter about Pemex, Repsol – and YPF.

 

Has opposition to Mexico’s reform agenda gone away, swept from the capital’s main square by police and from the headlines by tropical storms?

Time will tell – a recent demonstration against energy reform plans attracted thousands and striking teachers are promising more protests.

So it may be surprising to observe – in the first survey devoted to the subject of attitudes to Mexico’s pending energy reforms – that as much as 53 per cent of respondents were pretty – or very – happy with the plans. 

The countdown begins for one of the most eagerly-awaited policy decisions that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will make, one which may very well define his six-year presidency and shape Mexico’s economic future: his proposal to reform Mexico’s strongly-protected energy sector.

The Mexican president will unveil this week – some speculate as soon as Wednesday – his plans to open up Mexico’s oil industry to private investment. 

One of the most widely watched – and significant – of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s reforms is that of the energy sector.

It’s on the agenda when Congress resumes after the summer break in September – and is attracting a lot of international attention in the energy sector. But with disappointing results out from state oil company Pemex out, it’s now looking even more important than before. 

What is Pemex playing at?

Why would the Mexican oil company’s CEO go to the trouble of flying to Barcelona two weeks ago to explore the possibility of brokering a peace deal between Spain’s Repsol (in which it has a 9.37 per cent stake) and YPF, Repsol’s renationalised former unit, if Pemex was then going to vote against the deal at a board meeting