Pemex Puts in Request for Deepwater Seismic Research

Dow Jones Newswires

Petroleos Mexicanos has asked Mexico's energy ministry for permission to conduct seismic research in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, according to the country's official gazette.

The request calls for seismic research in 514,370 square kilometers of the Gulf of Mexico, including the "Perdido," or "Lost," belt where oil firms plan to start oil production on the U.S. side in 2010.

Mexico's slow start with deepwater oil operations has become a hot topic as lawmakers debate an energy reform bill that calls for more private investment in the industry.

Pemex says there are at least two oil fields that straddle the border in the Perdido area, and that oil and natural gas could flow to U.S. wells unless Pemex starts to drill on its side of the border. These fields are under over 8,000 feet of water.

This is a problem for Pemex, which doesn't have the equipment or experience to drill in waters deeper than 3,000 feet. The reform bill, which has been criticized by two of the three largest parties in Congress, calls for incentive-based service contracts to try and attract foreign oil companies into projects in the Gulf.

Mexico is also exploring diplomatic avenues to protect its oil and gas reserves. The Reforma newspaper reported Monday that the foreign ministry has sent a letter to the U.S. government to initiate negotiations on how to develop cross-border oil fields.

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