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Energy Reform Could Increase Mexico's Long-Term Oil Production by 75%

28/08/2014 by


On August 11, Mexico's president signed into law legislation that will open its oil and natural gas markets to foreign direct investment, effectively ending the 75-year-old monopoly of state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex). These laws, which follow previously adopted changes in Mexico's constitution to eliminate provisions that prohibited direct foreign investment in that nation's oil and natural gas sector, are likely to have major implications for the future of Mexico's oil production profile. As a result of the developments in Mexico over the past year, EIA has revised its expectations for long-term growth in Mexico's oil production.

Although there are many complexities to the new reform and many details that still must be settled before the reforms can take effect, reform is expected to improve the long-term outlook for growth in Mexico's petroleum and other liquids production. Analysis in EIA's upcoming International Energy Outlook 2014 (IEO2014) will include the potential effects on upstream oil exploration and production and the potential for foreign participation.

The changes in EIA's assessment of Mexico's liquids production profile are profound. Last year's International Energy Outlook projected that Mexico's production would continue to decline from 3.0 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) in 2010 to 1.8 MMbbl/d in 2025 and then struggle to remain in the range of 2.0 to 2.1 MMbbl/d through 2040. The forthcoming Outlook, which assumes some success in implementing the new reforms, projects that Mexico's production could stabilize at 2.9 MMbbl/d through 2020 and then rise to 3.7 MMbbl/d by 2040—about 75% higher than in last year's outlook. Actual performance could still differ significantly from these projections because of the future success of reforms, resource and technology developments, and world oil market prices.

Since 2008, the contract structure for any private company partnering with Pemex was a performance-based service contract, which offered financial incentives to private contractors working in Mexico's upstream sector. Incentives were provided in some cases, such as when a project is completed ahead of schedule, when Pemex benefits from the use of new technology provided by the contractor, or when the contractor is more successful than originally expected. These contracts also include penalties for environmental negligence or failure to meet contractual obligations.

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