(Recasts with comment from Pemex reaffirming January target, adds quotes,
details on investments, byline)
By Robert Campbell
MEXICO CITY, March 3 Mexico reaffirmed its goal of
producing 756,000 barrels per day of oil this year at its ailing Cantarell
field, despite a presentation to bondholders on Tuesday that appeared to
show a 7 percent cut in the closely watched target.
"Estimated crude oil production for the Cantarell project is
approximately 700,000 bpd during 2009," state oil company Pemex [PEMX.UL]
said in a document accompanying its fourth-quarter results presentation.
A Pemex spokesman later denied that the figure implied a change in
production expectations at the struggling oil field.
"The forecast from the beginning of the year that Cantarell will
produce about 750,000 bpd is unchanged," Pemex spokesman Carlos Ramirez
Pemex Chief Executive Jesus Reyes Heroles announced this year's target
of 756,000 bpd for Cantarell in a presentation to the Mexican Senate in
Oil market watchers and, increasingly, foreign investors in Mexico are
paying close attention to Cantarell's decline, which has placed Mexico's
position as a major oil exporter at risk, threatening a major source of
government revenues and foreign exchange.
Pemex has struggled to control the relentless decline of Cantarell
since its production peaked in 2004 at more than 2 million bpd, nearly
two-thirds of Mexico's total oil output.
Mexican crude oil output fell in January to 2.685 million bpd, its
lowest level since Nov. 1995 and 9.2 percent lower than a year earlier.
Production at Cantarell slid 38 percent to 772,000 bpd.
Pemex plans to pump between 2.7 million and 2.8 million bpd of crude in
2009, with the decline in output from Cantarell being compensated by
additional production from new projects expected in the second half of the
The company plans to invest $16.899 billion this year in new oil
production capacity, including nearly $2.2 billion at Cantarell to optimize
(Editing by John Picinich)