MEXICO CITY - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced Sunday that the nation's proven reserves of oil and gas rose slightly at the start of 2013 versus a year earlier to 13.87 billion barrels of crude-oil equivalent, while hinting that a coming energy reform proposal will include legal changes to "transform" the state-dominated industry.
Mr. Pena Nieto made the reserve announcement at a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the expropriation of the oil industry from foreign owners, where he reiterated that the energy overhaul proposal--now being negotiated with lawmakers--will not privatize state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.
"Pemex will not be sold nor privatized; Pemex must be transformed," Mr. Pena Nieto said to the applause of unionized oil workers present at the ceremony at a Pemex refinery in central Mexico.
The Mexican president didn't given any details on the reform proposal, saying only that the industry needs more investment.
Administration officials have said the proposal will include measures to attract more private players, including international oil companies that could partner with Pemex on projects like drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where Pemex has no commercial production.
Mexico's oil reserves are traditionally announced once a year at the expropriation ceremony and correspond to figures from the first of the calendar year. Mr. Pena Nieto said that Mexico's proven reserves would last about 10 years at current production rates.
In recent years, Pemex has been finding new oil each year about equal to production, meaning that for every barrel produced, another barrel has been found, so that overall reserves fluctuate little from year to year.
Proven reserves at the start of 2012 were 13.81 billion barrels of oil, Pemex said on its webpage, also equal to about 10 years of production at production rates at the time.
In a much broader measurement of oil reserves--proven, probable and possible, or 3P--Mr. Pena Nieto said the nation had 44.53 billion barrels of crude-oil equivalent at the beginning of the year, compared with the 43.84 billion barrels at the start of 2012.
Pemex's crude-oil production has fallen for eight consecutive years to about 2.55 million barrels a day in 2012 from around 3.4 million barrels in 2004.
Company officials have said new fields ramping up this year will end the string of declines, and early output numbers show that Pemex production has been higher so far this year than during the same time period last year.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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