Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), announced Friday that it will accept bids for a new round of private exploration and production (E&P) contracts in early January.

Pemex said the E&P contracts up for bids are for work in six of its mature fields. Four of the fields are onshore (Altamira, Pánuco, San Andrés and Tierra Blanca) while two are offshore in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Arenque and Atún).

“These contracts shall be within the framework of the company’s terms, which will be flexible and designed to attract new technologies and practices for the sole purpose of increasing Mexico’s production of hydrocarbons,” Pemex said in a translated statement. “These fields have significant reserves and represent important development and production opportunities.”

Pemex said the contracts would be awarded in June 2012.

In a separate statement on Dec. 12, Pemex said it was starting to use second generation portable production meters to work more efficiently in the Chicontepec Basin.

“These meters have brought a significant cost reduction, going from about $4,000 per well with conventional systems to $350 per measurement,” Pemex said, adding that the number of measurements has risen from 1,197 to 3,800 per month. “This has also enabled us to assess 90% of the wells in the [Chicontepec] territory. Our goal by the end of the year is to make 4,000 readings per month.”

Analysts have said Pemex needs to adopt technological innovation to successfully unlock its sizable oil and natural gas reserves (see Daily GPI, May 7, 2008). Pemex has been keen to develop the Chicontepec Basin for years (see Daily GPI, March 31, 2006; March 14, 2003).

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States imported 1,480 MMcf of natural gas from Mexico during the first nine months of 2011, with an average price of $3.58/Mcf. Meanwhile the United States has exported 374,628 MMcf of natural gas to Mexico during the same time frame, at an average price of $4.35/Mcf.

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