Four discoveries in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) could yield up to 170 MMcf/d of natural gas and 200,000 b/d of crude oil within two years, the chief of Mexico’s Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said.

The new reserves are in shallow water near existing infrastructure in Campeche Sound and Litoral de Tabasco, and they could begin producing within 16 months, Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya said at the Oil Workers’ Conference in Guadalajara. His comments were confirmed by Pemex.

The Campeche reserves may yield 80 MMcf/d and 100,000 b/d, while Litoral de Tabasco could contribute 90 MMcf/d and 100,000 b/d. Proved, probable and possible (3P) reserves total as much as 350 million boe.

The national oil company remains Mexico’s sole producer, and it owns the rights to the newly found reserves. However, the discoveries are near 14 blocks scheduled to be auctioned in July to foreign producers, the first in a series of auctions allowing outside investment (see Daily GPI, Dec. 11, 2014). Mexico in May prequalified 19 producers to bid next month on the 14 blocks (see Daily GPI, May 26).

Lozoya credited new rigs and better technology in helping with the recent finds. Two years ago Pemex awarded contracts for four modular platform rigs equipped with 3000 HP alternating current (see Daily GPI, April 2, 2013). Those rigs were destined to explore and develop fields in the Bay of Campeche.

The new rig contracts followed a series of deepwater discoveries by Pemex in 2012. A well drilled in the Catemaco Fold Belt appeared to confirm five natural gas deposits with estimated 3P reserves of 1.5-2 Tcf (see Daily GPI, July 6, 2012). That discovery was considered at the time to be the most productive in the deepwater for Pemex.

Also that summer Pemex struck oil in its first deepwater discovery in the Perdido Fold Belt near the Mexico-U.S. maritime boundary (see Daily GPI, Aug. 31, 2012). The Trion I discovery well, drilled in 8,250 feet of water about 24 miles south of the maritime boundary, was estimated to contain 250-400 million bbl of 3P reserves. In the fall of 2012, Pemex struck another big gusher offshore Tamaulipas in 9,513 feet of water (see Daily GPI, Oct. 9, 2012). The Supremus 1 well, drilled 3,609 feet below the seafloor, was estimated to hold 3P reserves of 75-125 million bbl of oil, according to Pemex.

Since signaling it is open to foreign investments, Mexico’s energy sector has drawn considerable interest over the past few months (see Daily GPI, June 1; April 7; March 27;March 3).