CERAWEEK: Pemex may delay call for joint ventures

Mexico's state-run Pemex could delay a call to energy companies to form joint ventures planned for October, amid government complaints that these firms have not invested quickly enough to make good on the promises of the country's flagship reform, the energy secretary said.

Pemex so far has had mixed results in its strategy of finding foreign partners to form joint ventures. In 2016, BHP Group was chosen to partner with Pemex in the country's flagship offshore project Trion. But some later auctions failed to attract oil companies and others were delayed.

Oil firms have only invested $800 million out of billions of dollars committed to over a hundred new Mexican energy projects, Rocio Nahle told journalists at the end of a meeting with the U.S. and Canadian energy secretaries at CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston.

"They must comply with what the law says in terms of timelines, otherwise they will have to return (licenses and contracts)," Nahle said.

Mexico's government is under pressure to boost the country's oil output and strengthen Pemex following a long-standing production decline that reduced the oil firm's crude output to 1.62 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, below the 2019 target. Crude exports were 1.07 million bpd.

Pemex pumps almost all oil barrels produced in the country, but following the country's opening of its energy markets, authorities expect foreign firms to contribute with more barrels as fast as possible to ease the energy trade deficit.

"Pemex has its own project of drilling 116 wells. As that project develops, it will decide if farmouts (joint ventures between Pemex and foreign partners) will be called this year or next," the secretary added.

Low refining rates increasingly also are forcing Pemex to import over 800,000 bpd of gasoline and other refined products, according to official data, even as the government strives to minimize fuel theft. (Reporting by Marianna Parraga; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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