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Mexico eases terms for deepwater joint venture with Pemex


Terms have been eased for an upcoming tender for foreign companies seeking a deepwater oil partnership with Mexico's state-owned Pemex in the Trion Block.

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Mexico's upstream regulator, the National Hydrocarbons Commission, ruled Friday that consortia can be composed of three companies, instead of four. Until Friday, the rules stipulated that consortia had to have four companies: Pemex, two operators and a financial partner.

The December 5 auction is for a joint-operation agreement in the Trion Block in Mexican Gulf waters of the Perdido Fold Belt. The Trion block sits close to the maritime border with the US in the Gulf of Mexico and has certified proven, probable and possible reserves of 480 million barrels of light crude, with water depths of 2,200-2,500 meters (7,200-8,200 feet), according to Pemex.

Ten companies have begun prequalification for bidding. They are BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Inpex, Mitsubishi, Shell, Total, PC Carigali and Lukoil.

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Companies had pressured for the change in the consortium rules because they were concerned that a larger consortium would mean dilution of profits.

Commissioner Sergio Pimentel welcomed the change but said that more companies would have wanted to take part in the auction if the terms had been eased earlier.

The Trion auction will coincide with that of 10 deepwater blocks in what the regulator and the Energy ministry say is likely to by far the most important and financially profitable upstream sale since Mexico's 2013-14 energy reform.

--Ronald Buchanan,
--Edited by Richard Rubin,