Pemex Said to Find Up to 200 Million Barrels Crude at Gulf

Jan 27, 2014 5:58 pm ET

(Adds details of U.S. regional facilities in seventh paragraph.)

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the world’s fifth-largest crude producer, found 150 million to 200 million barrels of oil in a deep-water well in the Perdido area, said two people with knowledge of the project.

Tests at Exploratus-1 in August confirmed the company’s fourth crude discovery in ultra-deep waters 200 miles (320 kilometers) east of the Texas-Mexico border in the Gulf of Mexico, said the two people, who asked not to be identified because the find hasn’t been made public. Tests at the well, which is about 8,389 feet (2,557 meters) deep, confirmed the presence of light crude and condensed gas, they said.

The discovery attests to the commercial viability of the Perdido area in Mexican waters just as the Latin American country prepares to open up fields to private producers. Pemex, as the Mexico City-based company is known, is considering joint ventures to tap deep-water fields as soon as the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer Emilio Lozoya said in a Jan. 25 interview.

Pemex’s press officials in Mexico City didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“The quickest way to monetize the investments that Pemex has already made in exploration is through joint ventures,” Lozoya said. “This means increasing output and income.”

Chevron Success

Pemex is ramping up exploration in Perdido to replicate success companies such as Chevron Corp. have achieved on the U.S. side of the area. The state company is expected to maintain blocks where it found crude when the government starts offering licenses and production-sharing contracts. Chevron, Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Repsol SA have expressed interest in Mexican oil fields.

After the Mexican oil producer made its first deepwater discovery in the Perdido area in August 2012, Carlos Morales, Pemex’s head of exploration and production, said the company would consider partnering with U.S. firms to process and transport the oil from the area.

Pemex could “connect our project to the existing pipelines in the U.S. with a commercial project to agreement,” Morales said in 2012. Shell operates a regional facility in the U.S. side of Perdido to manage and process crude from multiple producers in the area.

Pemex has right of first refusal on the production areas it will maintain, Deputy Energy Minister Enrique Ochoa said in a Jan. 14 interview.

President Enrique Pena Nieto enacted an energy law on Dec. 20 that will allow private producers to pump crude for the first time since 1938.

Pemex estimates it has 26.6 billion barrels of untapped crude in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a company presentation last month.

--With assistance from Adam Williams in Mexico City and Juan Pablo Spinetto in Davos, Switzerland. Editors: Carlos Caminada, Jonathan Roeder