MEXICO CITY, March 2 Mexico's oil regulator will
organize two annual oil auctions beginning in 2018, officials
said Thursday, in a bid to further boost the number of private
and foreign producers operating in the country.
Part of an ongoing overhaul of Mexico's energy sector, the
post-2018 auctions will follow three previously announced ones
set for later this year, covering two shallow water tenders and
a separate onshore tender.
Last month, a senior energy official told Reuters a fourth
auction will include deep water fields.
The deep water auction is set for December and will now also
feature so-called unconventional onshore shale fields, Aldo
Flores, deputy energy minister for hydrocarbons, told reporters
on Thursday as the ministry announced its five-year development
plan for the sector.
The inclusion of shale fields in the auction, most likely
near Mexico's northern border with the United States, will mark
a first for Mexico, where development of its own shale basins
badly lags booming U.S. fields next door.
Officials did not specify the locations of future fields up
for grabs in the new five-year plan or the type of contract it
plans to offer.
The twice yearly oil auctions beginning in 2018 will feature
one during the first half of the year including shallow water
and onshore conventional fields, and another in the second half
including deep water and shale fields, said Flores, who also
sits on the board of state-owned oil company Pemex.
A four-year-old landmark energy overhaul ended the
decades-long exploration and production monopoly enjoyed by
Pemex while also allowing private and foreign oil companies to
operate fields on their own for the first time.
The National Hydrocarbons Commission, the sector regulator
known locally as the CNH, oversaw four inaugural oil auctions
last year in which nearly 40 contracts were bid out and won by
nearly 50 companies.
(Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by David Alire
Garcia; Editing by David Gregorio)