ExxonMobil Corp. and Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) on Thursday signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) that precedes the opening of Mexico’s oil and gas industry to foreign investment.

Australia’s BHP Billiton Ltd. penned a similar cooperation agreement late last month with Pemex, which, like ExxonMobil’s, is to exchange technical knowledge, experience and practices for the offshore and onshore (see Daily GPI, Sept. 26). Pemex also has reached a cooperation agreement with Malaysia’s state-owned Petroliam Nasional Berhad, or Petronas. Other exploration companies also are said to be working on similar agreements.

The MOU with ExxonMobil was reached “to establish the basis of dialogue and understanding” regarding the upstream and downstream businesses, said Pemex.

The MOUs with Pemex signal more alliances are ahead as the country prepares to open bids from outside operators to develop onshore and offshore leases following historic legislative reform earlier this year (see Daily GPI, Aug. 14). Bids would be opened for 169 blocks in the first round, which is to include deep and shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, heavy crude and unconventional areas.

The Mexican government estimates private investments in the oil and gas sector could bring in $50 billion between 2015 and 2018.

According to Pemex, the ExxonMobil accord “adds to other efforts being made…to attract new technologies, capital and partners that will permit to compete efficiently in the new Mexican hydrocarbons market, ensure production and generate jobs in the nation’s energy sector.”