New Oil Field in Mexico's GOM Waters Could Revive Industry

A new oil field was identified in the south of the Gulf of Mexico that could help rescue Mexico's lagging industry, according to the newspaper Reforma on Tuesday.

The field is located off the coast of the Mexican state of Campeche, and contains an estimated 66 million tonnes (900 million barrels) of the fossil fuel. The discovery is one of the most important in the past decade, the state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said.

Exploitation of the field could begin in about two years, when up to 150,000 barrels a day could be pumped out. The new field could compensate for one-third of recent losses in Mexican production.

Mexico's oil industry has been in crisis for years. The infrastructure operated by Pemex -- which supplies 40 per cent of government revenues -- is getting old and wearing out.

Run as a state firm in a socialist system, a major part of its revenue is earmarked for the state budget, depriving Pemex of enough money to invest in maintaining and upgrading its equipment and carrying out new exploration.

In 2008, the Mexican Congress approved reform and allowed participation by private international firms - long rejected as a point of national pride.

Last week, an analyst at Standard & Poor's projected that Pemex would pump 2.3 million barrels of oil a day in 2010, Bloomberg financial news service reported. The forecast would represent an 11.6 per cent decline from 2009, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Mexico's oil industry is in its seventh consecutive year of decline, Bloomberg reported.

Other analysts said in 2008 that the reserves of the one-time seventh-largest oil producer in the world would be dry by 2018.

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