After Deadly Blast, 2.7 Million Barrels of Pemex Oil Go Missing

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos seems to have misplaced 2.7 million barrels of oil.

Since a deadly blast on April 1 tore through one of its offshore platforms, the state oil giant has baffled industry analysts with its assessment of the damage.

Pemex has said the disaster, its deadliest this year, affected about 1.5 million barrels of production. But Energy Ministry reports show the actual figure is nearly three times higher: 4.2 million barrels in lost output since April 1.

The disparity raises questions about how Mexico’s lone oil operator does -- or doesn’t -- keep investors in the loop about its sprawling business. It comes as Pemex tries to lure $33 billion in joint-venture investments to bolster sagging output -- all the more important after Mexico recently failed to attract enough buyers for offshore fields it wants to develop.

Pemex is “failing to understand that in this world of transparency, you have to be careful what you say,” said Luis Maizel at LM Capital Group, who manages $5.5 billion of fixed- income assets, including Pemex bonds. “People don’t forget.”

Conflicting Statements

Pemex has given conflicting statements about how much output was cut. In an e-mailed response to questions on July 8, Pemex reiterated its 1.5 million-barrel estimate. In a follow-up e-mail on July 10, the company said Bloomberg’s 4.2 million- barrel calculation was also “in the order of Pemex’s estimates” and didn’t provide details to explain the difference when asked in additional messages.

At the heart of the confusion appears to be what, exactly, Pemex means by lost output. The production isn’t “lost,” Pemex says, just “deferred.”


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