Pemex Increases Exploration Spending in 2002

Pemex plans to invest $14.7 billion in 2002 out of a total budget of $23.9 billion reported company director, Raul Munoz Leos. The amount approved by Congress for the current budget represents Pemex's biggest year-on-year investment increase in two decades. The average annual investment between 1996 and 2000 was only $7.24 billion.

The majority of this year's investment will be for exploration and production projects, mostly in the Cantarell field, which is Mexico's largest offshore oil field, in the Burgos gas basin of northeastern Mexico, and in the Grijalva River Delta, in southeast Mexico. Included in the planned projects are multiple-service contracts for natural gas production.

The contracts, which could be for up to 20 years, have received criticism from government officials. Demands have been made see draft versions before contracts are awarded. Opposition parties say the multiple-service contracts violate the constitutional ban on private exploration and production of hydrocarbons in Mexico. Pemex says the contracts are legal and simply combine in a single contract different services that the state company would tender to private contractors under the public works law anyway.

Luis Ramirez Corzo, head of Pemex's exploration and production unit, said the contracts would be awarded according to the lowest bids on two- to three-year programs of minimum tasks to be carried out in areas of proven reserves. Under the contracts, Pemex expects to be producing an additional 1 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas by 2006. Munoz said Pemex considers the multiple-service contracts to be the fastest way of reducing future natural gas imports.


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