In an effort to boost oil and gas production, the chief of Mexico’s state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) announced that the company will drill its first Gulf of Mexico deepwater well this year in collaboration with an international petroleum consortium. Although no project partners were revealed, Pemex’s Raul Munoz Leos said drilling would be completed with state-of-the-art technology.

The offshore deepwater project is expected to begin about the same time as the start up of the construction stage of several of Pemex’s multiple service contracts (MSCs), Munoz said. The MSCs were bid for contract by private companies beginning late last year, and Mexico also has other drilling projects set to begin in the Ku-Maloob-Zaap, Crudo Ligero Marino, Bermudez Complex and Lankahuasa.

“Petroleum activities…have spread across the country, as evidenced by the number of exploration and production projects launched by Pemex during the administration of President Vicente Fox,” Munoz said. In the first three years of the Fox administration, he said, Pemex has made improvements in oil and gas volumes as well as finances, because of organizational restructuring and a “change in company focus.”

Last year, oil and gas production in Mexico reached 3.37 MMboe/d, which is the “highest figure in Pemex’s history,” Munoz said. Crude exports last year totaled 1.86 million bbl/d, which was 145,000 bbl/d above 2002 levels. Meanwhile, gas production rose to 4.5 Bcf/d last year. Gas production had fallen 7.7% between 1998 and 2002 because Pemex did not increase output from its Cantarell field, but last year production increased 1.7%, and was about 500 MMcf/d higher than in 2002.

This year, the Mexican Congress has approved about $13.4 billion for Pemex to replace reserves. Nearly 75% of the budget has been earmarked for Pemex Exploracion y Produccion, Mexico’s exploration and production (E&P) unit. Currently, Pemex has a portfolio of 95 E&P projects worth more than $160 billion, including several projects expected to increase reserves replacement from 21% in 2000 to 75% in 2006 and 100% in 2010.

In 2003, Munoz said that 41 new oil and gas fields were discovered, raising reserves replacement to 45% with respect to output, from an annual average of 26% over the last 10 years. Also last year, work was restarted in the onshore Chicontepec basin, which potentially holds more than 18 billion boe, or about 37% of the country’s total reserves.

In Mexico’s offshore area Gulf of Mexico, Munoz noted that 817 explorations detected 172 probable developments last year, and now Pemex wants to obtain the technology to develop them.

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