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Mexico’s NatGas-Heavy Round 2.2 Auction ‘Aggressive,’ with Seven of 10 Blocks Snapped Up

Seven of 10 exploration blocks found bidders Wednesday in what was the first upstream auction featuring natural gas since Mexico’s 2014 energy reform.

In view of the current low prices for natural gas, several analysts had predicted that Auction Round 2.2 might be a snoozefest, but the actual auction included fierce bidding on some of the blocks.

“Holy wow!” tweeted GMEC’s Gonzalo Monroy, director of the Mexico City-based consultancy. “Round 2.2 proves to be quite a success.”

Not only that, a Canadian-Mexican consortium was the big winner. Sun God Energia, a unit of Canada’s Sun God Resources, together with Mexico’s Jaguar E&P, won six of the seven blocks that were taken.

All but one of the seven were in the gassy Burgos Basin, across the border from Texas, and Mexico’s top producer of non-associated gas. The basin currently produces only about half of its 1.4 Bcf/d peak following severe under-investment by state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos.

Five of the six blocks won by the Sun God-Jaguar alliance are in Burgos. Sun God-Jaguar offered 45% extra royalty in that block, the maximum permitted, though there were no other bidders. The sixth block won is in southern Mexico, an area that produces extra-light crude.

The only other block awarded in Round 2.2 was by Iberoamericana de Hidrocarburos, a Mexican-Spanish company, with Servicio’s PJP4 of Mexico.

The six winning bids by Sun God-Jaguar were described as “aggressive” by Wood Mackenzie’s Pablo Medina, chief Latin American analyst. In addition to the 45% in the southern light-crude block, Sun God-Jaguar made four bids for 25% of royalties.

Only one other competitor made a 25% bid, which was for Block seven, where a consortium of Mexico’s Newpek, a division of Alfa, the powerful Monterrey-based industrial group, bid 25%, only to be beaten in a run-off by the Sun God-Jaguar alliance.

Late Wednesday, bidding also began for 14 blocks of Round 2.3 that included both gas and oil targets. Likely bidders were expected to include Newpek and companies led by Mexico’s two most powerful tycoons, Carlos Slim and Alberto Bailleres, who owns the world’s leading silver producer, Industrias Peñoles.

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