MEXICO CITY – Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has been unable to attract a partner for its plans to explore and develop a shallow-water area of the Gulf of Mexico, with no companies making bids in a Wednesday auction.
The auction for the Ayin-Batsil area has been declared void because no bids were submitted, said the head of the legal unit of Mexico’s oil regulator, the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH), Martin Alvarez Magaña.
As part of a 2013 energy-sector overhaul that ended Pemex’s decades-old exploration and production monopoly, auctions were held Wednesday with the aim of finding a partner for the state oil company in three areas: Ayin-Batsil, Cardenas-Mora and Ogarrio.
Ayin-Batsil, which covers an area of 1,096 sq. kilometers (423 sq. miles), is located in the eastern part of Salina del Istmo province and in the prolific Gulf of Mexico portion of Pilar Reforma-Akal province.
The Ayin and Batsil fields contain proved, probable and possible reserves totaling some 350 million barrels of heavy crude.
Had licenses for those fields been awarded, estimates are that initial production would have begun in 2020 and that a maximum output of 80,000 barrels per day would have been attained in the coming years.
On March 3, Pemex signed an arrangement with Australia’s BHP Billiton whereby it “farmed out” exploration and production rights to the deep-water Trion field in the Gulf of Mexico.
CEO Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya said at the time that the arrangement represented a milestone in Pemex’s history, noting that for the first time a field assigned as part of the energy overhaul’s Round Zero (in which 83 percent of Mexico’s probable and possible oil reserves were allocated to Pemex) would be developed in partnership with a global industry leader.
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration looked to the energy overhaul to attract tens of billions of dollars in investment and reverse a more than 40 percent decline in Mexico’s oil output, which peaked at 3.38 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2004 and currently stands at around 2 million bpd.