(Adds details on auction)
MEXICO CITY, March 6 Mexico's oil regulator
voted on Monday to begin the process of choosing a partner for
national oil company Pemex to develop its Ayin-Batsil field, the
second such joint venture as Mexico seeks to reverse a dozen
years of declining crude output.
Pemex will maintain a 50 percent stake in the shallow water
project but will not be its operator, according to initial bid
terms approved by the National Hydrocarbons Commission, the oil
regulator known as the CNH that manages oil auctions.
The Ayin-Batsil joint venture will be Pemex's second such
tie-up following the selection of Australian mining and oil firm
BHP Billiton in December to operate the Trion deep water block
near the U.S.-Mexico maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico. BHP
Billiton holds a 60 percent stake and Pemex 40 percent.
The auction to pick Pemex's partner for Ayin-Batsil is
scheduled to take place on June 19 and will feature a 30-year
production sharing contract for pre-qualified oil companies with
potential contract extensions of up to 10 more years.
Ayin-Batsil is next to three other blocks up for auction in
a shallow water tender also set for June. The project features
an estimated 281 million barrels of oil in proven, probable and
possible reserves based on past Pemex discoveries and located at
a water depth of 525 feet (160 meters).
The auctions administered by the CNH are a result of a
sweeping energy reform passed in 2013 that ended the
decades-long monopoly enjoyed by Pemex and allows private and
foreign oil companies to operate fields on their own as well as
in equity partnerships with the Mexican oil company.
Pemex crude oil production has fallen from a peak of 3.38
million barrels per day (bpd) in 2004 to average just 2.15
million bpd last year.
CNH commissioners also opted to rename the project from the
original Ayin-Xulum to avoid confusion with another oil field,
said CNH president Juan Carlos Zepeda.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Adriana Barrera; editing
by Grant McCool)