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Mexican auction postponements would cut output by over 500,000 b/d in long term: report

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Mexico's largest challenge is replacing mature fields, which provide over 70% of oil output

Shell, Petronas, Qatar Petroleum expected to be largest private investors over the coming years

Mexico Ctiy — If Mexico halts auctions for two years as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador plans, its crude output will only reach 2.46 million b/d by 2027, not 3.07 million b/d, the previous administration said in a transition report.

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If the auctions continue, Mexico would produce 7 Bcf/d of natural gas by 2028, 640 MMcf/d more than if the lease sales are shelved for two years, the report, which was released on Saturday, showed.

According to the report, an indefinite cancellation of the auctions would lead to Mexico's crude output falling to 1.75 million b/d by 2030.

If the tenders are not deferred, half of Mexico's 2.9 million b/d crude production by 2030 would come from companies other than state-owned Pemex.

Mexico's main challenge is the declining output of its mature fields.

More than 70% of Mexico's crude output comes from 24 areas, which will be depleted over the next decade, according to the report.

Mexico's output will average 1.8 million b/d in the 2019-2022 period before increasing to 2.36 million b/d by 2024, data in the report show.

Gas production will fall to 3.5 Bcf/d-3.6 Bcf/d over the 2019-2022 period before increasing to more than 6 Bcf/d by 2027, based on the contracts with producers awarded to date.

The four most advanced projects awarded to date under the country's energy reforms -- Eni's Amoca-Mizton-Tecoalli, Pan American Energy's Hokchi, Talos' Zama and BHP's Trion plays -- will produce a combined 290,000 b/d of crude and 185 MMcf/d of gas by 2024 alone.

CONDITIONED ON RESULTS

Lopez Obrador is a critic of Mexico's energy reforms, blaming them for a decrease in oil and gas output as well as high prices.

A month ago, the now president told the industry he would continue with auction rounds under the condition that new operators increased hydrocarbon output, proving the success of the reforms.

Throughout the transition period from July to December, Lopez Obrador's Energy Secretary, Rocio Nahle, said the government would postpone auctions by two years.

To date, Mexico has signed 111 contracts awarded following auctions with Pemex, other Mexican and international operators.

To produce 2.9 million b/d, Mexico would need to drill on, average, 1,200 wells per year in the 2019-2030 period, with more than 85% of these being shale wells.

Mexico requires capital expenditure investments of $26.5 billion/year to reach production of 2.9 million b/d by 2030, according to the report.

Contract-holding companies will invest $46 billion in exploration and development activities through 2025, according to the report's forecast.

The Mexican government calculates Shell will be the largest private investor in the long term in Mexico. Based on contracts awarded to date, it will invest $34.7 billion, followed by Petronas with $17.1 billion and Qatar Petroleum $14.6 billion, pending geological success in the areas awarded.

Shell will drill 13 out of the 33 deepwater exploration wells private companies have pledged to drill as part of their contractual bids.

-- Daniel Rodriguez, daniel.rodriguez@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com