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IHS CERAWeek: Mexican auction for deepwater blocks set for Dec: Pena Nieto

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IHS CERAWeek: Mexican auction for deepwater blocks set for Dec: Pena Nieto

Houston — Mexico's next upstream bidding, a long-awaited auction for deepwater blocks, will take place in early December, that country's president said Monday.

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"I want to announce that the fourth call for bids of Round 1 will be issued in the first days of December which corresponds to deepwater deposits," Enrique Pena Nieto said in opening the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston.

"I assure you we will maintain the rhythm of contracts for hydrocarbon extraction," Pena Nieto said.

Mexico has already had three auctions in the first phase of its upstream opening, which was part of a broad series of reforms approved in 2013 which opened up the country to foreign investment in a way unprecedented for more than 75 years.

Last year three auctions were held. Shallow-water tracts were offered in the first two auctions in July and September, respectively, and onshore blocks were awarded in the third auction in December. The third auction was overwhelmingly successful compared with the other two, when the country was still tinkering with the contract terms at a period of low oil prices.

In addition, Pena Nieto also said private companies were set to be allowed to import gasoline and diesel into the country as of 2017. But he has now moved up that date to April 1.

The move "should be reflected in better prices in our country," he said.

Pena Nieto noted that as of this year, according to the country's energy reforms, fueling stations other than those owned by Pemex, Mexico's state-controlled oil company, were permitted in Mexico. At the same time, Pemex in December opened a fueling station in Houston, its first outside Mexico.

Pemex is a large exporter of crude but a net importer of refined products. According to the US' Energy Information Administration, citing Pemex figures, Mexico imported 641,000 b/d of refined products in 2014, of which 5% was gasoline. Most of the rest was diesel and liquefied petroleum gases.

--Starr Spencer,
--Edited by Jason Lindquist,