Business / Economy

Opportunities in Mexico abound for energy firms

By Mu Chen and Du Juan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-14 07:20

Several opportunities will be available for Chinese enterprises in Mexico's energy sector, especially in all the stages of oil and gas production, the Mexican ambassador to China said on Wednesday.

The ambassador's press conference in Beijing came after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed a series of 21 laws on Monday that laid the foundation for a comprehensive reform in the country's energy sector - unchanged since the energy sector was nationalized in 1938.

"Chinese enterprises will be able to bid on profit-sharing contracts to either jointly or individually participate in Mexican oil and gas exploration, production, refinement, transportation and storage which up to now have been monopolized by Pemex, the national petroleum company," said Ambassador Julian Ventura.

Foreign participation in Mexico's energy sector was limited to service contracts in the oil sector in the past.

Ventura said the reforms are intended to attract foreign investment for the necessary modernization of the oil, gas and electricity sectors as well as to drive forward the country's renewable energy sector.

Since 2004, Mexican oil production has dropped by 25 percent resulting in the reduction of 1 million barrels of crude a day over the past 8 years.

Gao Jian, a crude analyst at domestic commodities consultancy Sublime China Information Co Ltd, said that the opening up of the Mexican energy sector represents significant opportunities for State-owned and private companies.

China's top energy giants - China National Petroleum Corp, Sinopec Group and CNOOC Ltd - have no existing oil fields in operation at present in Mexico. However, Sinopec Group and CNOOC are running oil services for Pemex in the oil extraction sector.

"Of the three big players, CNPC is the most likely to invest in Mexico because it has a smaller presence in the Americas," Gao said.

CNPC officials were not immediately available for comment on the new policy. However, sources close to the company indicated that the development is certainly promising, especially in terms of resource diversification.

Chinese private companies, which have stepped up overseas activities, can also use the opportunities that will open up in Mexico, despite the high costs and political risks, said Gao from Sublime.

The Mexican government estimates that the overhaul of its energy sector will require a combined government and private investment of $50 billion in the electricity sector and $270 billion in the oil and gas sector.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Mexico has 13 billion barrels of technically recoverable shale oil and 545 trillion cubic meters of technically recoverable shale gas.

China was Mexico's second - largest trade partner with bilateral trade of $67 billion in 2013, and Mexico's fourth - largest export destination with $671 million in oil exports alone in 2013.

On Thursday, the Mexican energy ministry will announce the specific areas that will be opened up for foreign and private domestic companies in the first round of public bidding. Precise details of the bidding will be announced in the first quarter of 2015.

In addition to traditional energy sectors, Ventura said that many Chinese companies from other sectors are also exploring the opportunity to enter the Mexican market, especially in solar power and other renewable energies.

"Chinese enterprises operate with high efficiency and low costs and with these two qualities I think Chinese enterprises will be very competitive in Mexico's bidding process," Ventura said.

Opportunities in Mexico abound for energy firms Opportunities in Mexico abound for energy firms
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