August 13, 2013 in Nation/World

Mexico considers investors for Pemex

Change to constitution could allow contracts
Mark Stevenson Associated Press
 

MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed on Monday lifting a decades-old ban on private companies investing in the state-run oil industry, a cornerstone of Mexico’s national pride that’s seen production plummet in recent decades.

The reform would allow profit-sharing contracts with private companies that have exploration know-how in deep water and other difficult areas that the state-owned oil company, Pemex, doesn’t have. Such contracts are currently prohibited by the constitution, which would have to be changed.

The leftist Democratic Revolution Party says it won’t support constitutional changes, but Pena Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and the conservative National Action Party have enough votes combined to secure the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate to pass the change. They could do the same with the support of a small, allied party in the Chamber of Deputies.

The measure then would have to be approved by at least 17 of the country’s 32 state legislatures.

“Mexicans will remain the sole beneficiaries of the country’s oil profits,” Pena Nieto said as he presented his proposal. “It’s time to use all of our energy resources to move forward and transform Mexico.”

Pena Nieto’s administration offered virtually no details about how it envisioned private participation, and Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquin Coldwell refused to specify the maximum percentage of profits that could be shared. The apparent vagueness of the proposal raised uneasiness.

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