BHP Billiton says deepwater field just start of partnership with Mexico

The La Muralla IV exploration oil rig, working for Mexico’s state-owned oil company PEMEX, in the Gulf of Mexico in 2013. OMAR TORRESOMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images

The chief executive of Petróleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, touted a new partnership with BHP Billiton this week as a sign of more U.S. and foreign investment to come.

“For 80 years, we were the only players in town,” Pemex CEO José Antonio González Anaya said on Tuesday at the CERAWeek oil and gas conference in Houston.

Now, Anaya said, the country hopes to partner with more U.S. companies, farm out fields and encourage U.S. infrastructure investment.

“Let me invite people,” Anaya said. “We are very much under-invested in pipelines and storage facilities in Mexico.”

In December, global oil companies won bids for eight of 10 blocks on the Mexican side of the Gulf of Mexico, the first time such fields were opened to foreign investment since nationalization of oil production in 1938.

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BHP Billiton made history by joining Pemex in a joint venture at the Trion oil field, estimated to hold almost 500 million barrels of recoverable crude.

“This is the first step of something we think could expand beyond Trion and run for half a century,” Steve Pastor, president of petroleum operations for Melbourne-based BHP Billiton, which has a large presence in Houston, said after a press conference on Tuesday. “There are already four other discovered resources in the near vicinity of Trion. There’s a lot of running room here.”

Anaya said he met with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday to further cement the relationship with the state.

“I see lots of opportunities for Texas companies in Mexico and with Pemex, in every area,” Anaya said after his speech. “There’s so much trade.”