Pemex to offer deep-water contracts

As part of its efforts to lure investors, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, will offer contracts for deep-water drilling by early 2012, the head of the company said Tuesday.

Pemex CEO Juan Jose Suarez Coppel stopped in Houston as part of the company’s road show to promote its first auction of oil field exploration and production contracts. For more than seven decades, Pemex has been a state-controlled monopoly prohibited by law from investment by private interests.

“We plan to do a fresh round on deep-water contracts at the end of this year or the beginning of next year,” Suarez told reporters during a news conference.

“We plan to do a fresh round on deep-water contracts at the end of this year or the beginning of next year,” Suarez told reporters during a news conference.

The deep-water contracts will be for areas in the Gulf of Mexico near the Perdido Basin.

While he expects small and midsized companies and Mexican firms will bid for three onshore blocks in the state of Tabasco that are being auctioned now, major oil companies will likely be interested in the deep-water drilling contracts, Suarez said.

Earlier this month, Pemex announced plans to allow the private sector to develop the six mature fields in three blocks called Carrizo, Magallanes and Santuario. The current production in those fields is 13,000 barrels per day.

Pemex will announce which firms win the performance-based contracts in August so companies can start studying fields by October and begin drilling by late 2012, Suarez said.

The auctions result from politically sensitive legislation Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s promoted successfully in 2008. Since the 1930s, Pemex had avoided outside investment to protect its economically crucial natural resource.

Calderon convinced lawmakers that Pemex needed outside cash and technology to exploit diminishing fields.

Representatives from about 100 energy firms attended Tuesday’s seminar at a Galleria area hotel.

Pemex officials also detailed the new contract models in Mexico City, and they will travel next to Calgary, Alberta; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and London to hold seminars for potential investors.

While the contracts are for mature fields, “they still have great potential,” said Fernando Calvillo Alvarez, president and CEO of Mexico City oil company Fermaca. He hopes to team up with foreign companies to bid for a contracts.

Mitchell Srack, senior exploration consultant for Jackson, Miss.-based Telpico, which has an office in Houston, attended the seminar to learn more.

“Things have changed down there enough so that it’s enticing,” he said.

jenalia.moreno@chron.com