Mexico’s national oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), has struck oil in deep waters after many years spent exploring the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. The announcement was made by Mexican President Felipe Calderón on Wednesday.
The high-quality, light crude find rest well below the Gulf’s floor, more than 8,200 feet below the surface of the water. It could expand Mexico’s overall reserves by a potential 400 million barrels. The waters are located off the coast of Tamaulipas, in the north-east.
More crucial is the fact that the discovery was made solely by Pemex, a monopoly. Under Mexican law, Pemex cannot form partnerships with external companies. Some had questioned whether Pemex in fact possessed the technical capability of successfully exploring deep waters.
President Calderón, who is preparing to deal with the final months of his presidency, surely found the incident a vindication.
The New York Times reports:
Holding up a vial of light crude from the well, he [President Caldéron] said: “What a good thing that this effort is crowned today, with a great discovery, with the realization of a goal that we had set for ourselves.”
His successor, Enrique Peña Nieto, may not be as elated. He has stated that he will amend laws to allow private companies to invest with Pemex. Such moves have encountered stiff opposition in the past. Pemex’s latest success will only ensure that the opposition will be more entrenched.
The success comes after a decade and more than $4 billion spent on deep water exploration. Indeed, Mexico’s regulator, the National Hydrocarbons Commission, recently criticized the company, saying it was devoting far too much capital to risky explorations.
President Calderón hinted that the find was part of a larger oilfield, with potential production ranging between 4 to 10 billion barrels of crude. Mexico happens to be the third largest supplier of imported crude oil to the U.S. It experienced a crisis when the Canterell oilfield started to decline from 2004 onward, but it has managed to stabilize at 2.55 billion barrels per day.
It will take a minimum of five to six years to really get the crude flowing, but Pemex has stated that underwater robots are already being prepared for the purpose.