Mexican President announces three-year moratorium on oil block auctions

7 December 2018 (Last Updated December 9th, 2018 14:27)

Mexico’s new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced that the government will not offer any new oil blocks for the next three years, while assuring that existing contracts would not be cancelled.

Mexico’s new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has announced that the government will not offer any new oil blocks for the next three years while assuring that existing contracts would not be cancelled.

Assuming office last week, Obrador said that companies that secured contracts from the previous government need to start producing.

The President also stated that he will review the production and the investments made by foreign companies that won bids on offshore blocks during this three-year period.

Obrador is calling for greater investment in the blocks awarded under his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto’s 2013 energy reform agenda, which sought to break state oil company Pemex’s influence on the country’s oil sector.

“We want them to demonstrate that they are going to invest and produce oil.”

Reuters quoted the new President as saying: “The contracts will not be cancelled, so there won’t be a loss of confidence. We can’t keep on giving out territory for the extraction of hydrocarbons if there is no investment and there is no production.

“We want them to demonstrate that they are going to invest and produce oil. We will make a decision based on results.”

Despite criticising the energy reform introduced four years ago, the President did not rule out seeking additional private investments into Mexico’s untapped deepwater fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

Auctions for oil blocks were originally scheduled to be held in February next year. Obrador did not state whether the auctions would be held as scheduled, postponed or even cancelled, reported Reuters.

The government planned to offer 46 oil and gas blocks, some of which were unconventional blocks.

Obrador lamented the lack of significant private-sector investment to raise Mexico’s crude production, which hit the lowest level in decades under the reign of his predecessor.