13 Aug 2013

Mexico to open oil industry to private investment

8:49 am on 13 August 2013

Mexico plans to open its oil industry to private investment. The industry has been protected by the state for 75 years.

President Enrique Pena Nieto has proposed reforms that will encourage foreign and domestic investment in the industry.

The BBC reports Pemex, the state oil company, needs investment and expertise to develop new oil and gas fields.

Currently, private companies can be awarded service contracts within the oil industry.

Under the president's plan, private companies would be allowed to share the risks and profits of developing new fields.

If the reforms go through, analysts say foreign investment could double in Mexico, giving the economy the biggest boost since Mexico joined North American Free Trade Agreement 20 years ago.

No oil concessions will be sold. Nevertheless, a BBC correspondent said the reform won't be simple to get through Congress and the government faces a complicated task in negotiating with all sides, including unions.

A large share of Pemex profits support government spending which has hampered the company's ability to fund new projects.

The BBC reports the government has warned that Mexico faces becoming a net oil importer by 2018, if major new oil projects cannot be developed.