Is Mexico ready to join the oil-and-gas boom?

posted at 7:01 pm on February 3, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Mexico nationalized their oil industry in the 1930s, essentially giving private foreign companies as well as their technology and capital the ol’ heave-ho, and state-owned Pemex has dominated the oil-and-gas ever since. The oil giant is Mexico’s largest company by sales and provides revenue that accounts for more than a third of Mexico’s budget. Chronic mismanagement and technical deficiencies have lately contributed to its decline, however, and experts have predicted that the company will lose its export power if it doesn’t make some major changes, and soon.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, elected last July, is looking to do just that, via the WSJ:

In the past two decades, Mexico has allowed private investment in some areas, such as natural gas storage and distribution, and electricity generation, but Pemex has kept a firm grip on the oil and gas sector. Many experts say that unless Mexico opens up its oil exploration to private firms, it is likely to cease exporting major quantities of oil by the end of 2018.

President Enrique Peña Nieto wants to change that, letting private companies partner with Pemex to search for oil. But, like presidents before him, he has been forced in recent weeks to reassure Mexicans that he has no plans to privatize the company itself. Analysts expect the president to negotiate with the country’s opposition in the coming months to agree on a plan for opening up the oil sector.

The possibility has investors hopefully sniffing the air, although there are definite political challenges to overcome before the industry can really be unleashed — but a gigantic and still-unexplained explosion at Pemex’s headquarters earlier this week may put some critical pressure on the endeavor, reports the Financial Times:

This week, Mexican eyes again scanned the headquarters of the eighth-biggest oil company in the world by production after a mysterious explosion on Thursday afternoon in the B2 administrative building next door left 32 people dead and about 100 injured. …

Pemex – a symbol in Mexico of energy self-sufficiency but also security problems, oil theft and inefficiency – has suffered several fatal gas explosions. …

This week’s incident, however, has cast further doubt on the company’s ability to modernize…

“So what will the Pemex explosion mean for the national debate on energy reform? It puts Pemex firmly in the spotlight for a start,” tweeted Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson centre in Washington.

“Pemex needs to be modernised from top to bottom, from exploration and production to basic practices … Will legislators [now] recognise that Pemex has fallen behind the times?”

All of this is happening as Mexico’s overall economy is lately showing signs of more robust growth and competitiveness — the economy grew almost four percent in 2012, practically double the average annual growth rate of this century — and Nieto is working for more business-friendly and government-efficiency focused reforms. The country still has huge systemic problems, cartel-fueled violence and drug wars figuring prominently among them, but it looks like Mexico isn’t entirely without reasons for optimism.


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Why not?

We can have a pipeline from the North.
And one from the South..

Oh wait…

Electrongod on February 3, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Change is coming to Mexico. And their growth rate is kewl. Hope and change there, not here in the US.

tommy71 on February 3, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Is Mexico ready to join the oil-and-gas boom?

Um, they’re gonna have to join civilization first, as in dealing with the bloody cartel madness. I’m not hopeful.

hillbillyjim on February 3, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Just think of all the self-deportation a Mexican oil-and-gas boom would inspire.

steebo77 on February 3, 2013 at 7:08 PM

Weren’t the Pemex offices in Mexico City just recently bombed? What’s going on there?

RedRedRice on February 3, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Why not?

We can have a pipeline from the North.
And one from the South..

Oh wait…

Electrongod on February 3, 2013 at 7:04 PM

…avoid the name Keystone

KOOLAID2 on February 3, 2013 at 7:29 PM

All of this is happening as Mexico’s overall economy is lately showing signs of more robust growth and competitiveness — the economy grew almost four percent in 2012

But Republicans and Democrats tell me that we need to import poverty labor to expand the economy. Are you telling me that Mexico expanded their economy after exporting millions of potential cheap laborers?

Buddahpundit on February 3, 2013 at 7:39 PM

Pemex – a symbol in Mexico of energy self-sufficiency but also security problems, oil theft and inefficiency – has suffered several fatal gas explosions. …

Umm, if they nationalized the industry, even if in the thirties, that’s not self sufficient, that was using what others had built.

AZfederalist on February 3, 2013 at 7:46 PM

Hey, perhaps the Mexican economy will take off and Mexicans will find good jobs in Mexico………. and, will stay in Mexico. We can get our college graduates to harvest our food crops.

SC.Charlie on February 3, 2013 at 7:50 PM

But, like presidents before him, he has been forced in recent weeks to reassure Mexicans that he has no plans to privatize the company itself.

Is it any wonder why Mexicans go Democrat? I’m sure they’ll be forthcoming with info on the ‘infrastructure failure’.

Basically they want all the benefits, but need expertise. Let them wallow in it; even though I know someone will “assist” them.

John Kettlewell on February 3, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Sure why not? Then we ( the US ) can give them areas like we did China that we should be drilling. I mean its okay for other countries to drill but to heck with our own and making OURSELVES on OUR LAND/WATER less dependent on other countries.

O its nice to see gas over 3.50 again here in WI. Can not wait to see what its going to be once summer hits and we need to have the “special” blends.

watertown on February 3, 2013 at 8:00 PM

That’s it. I’m crossing the desert, going to Mexico City, waving an American flag and DEmanding to be made a citizen.

msupertas on February 3, 2013 at 8:53 PM

That’s it. I’m crossing the desert, going to Mexico City, waving an American flag and DEmanding to be made a citizen. – msupertas on February 3, 2013 at 8:53 PM

Don’t try it. They have strict immigration laws that they do enforce.

SC.Charlie on February 3, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Not unless they killed every major drug kingpin overnight.

MelonCollie on February 3, 2013 at 10:38 PM

Not sure this is the week to talk about Pemex and a ‘boom’.

trigon on February 4, 2013 at 12:47 AM

Mexico is a dying country, running on hatred of capitalism, America, and the catholic church. The citizens have a strange tendency to move to America to be closer to everything the profess to despise. Expect nothing and you will hardly be disappointed.

pat on February 4, 2013 at 2:11 AM

Have you seen their weather girls?

antisense on February 4, 2013 at 9:37 AM