Pemex announced today that it has discovered reserves with up to 180 million barrels of crude oil in shallow waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
Company CEO Carlos Treviño said that light and heavy crudes were found in seven reservoirs along the Mulak and Manich fields off the coast of Tabasco.
The find is expected to help boost oil production that has been in decline for over a decade.
“Their future development will contribute to Pemex reaching its goals in the coming years,” Treviño told a press conference.
Federal Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell said that the discovery was one of the 10 most important anywhere in the world during the last 15 years.
“These are the reservoirs that will feed the country’s reserves,” he said.
The discovery follows others announced by Pemex in recent years in four nearby fields.
To exploit the reserves, Treviño estimated that US $7 billion to $10 billion will be required in investment, including drilling rigs, pipelines and at least one production platform.
The CEO predicted that production from the six fields could peak in the second half of 2020 at 210,000 barrels of crude and 350 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Pemex’s oil and gas production has trended downwards since 2004 but despite budgetary constraints, the company has increased exploration efforts in recent years.
Pemex exploration director José Antonio Escalera said last week that those efforts had allowed the company to slow down declines in the Cantarell field, adding that some new subsalt reservoirs had also been exploited.
Coldwell said that the downward trend in oil production is expected to turn positive in two years as a result of the 2014 energy reform that allowed foreign and private companies to enter the sector.
Mexico has held a series of auctions to sell off oil and gas blocks and another round is scheduled to go ahead in February 2o19.
Incoming president López Obrador has been a vocal critic of the energy reform but last month assured private energy executives that their contracts will not be canceled if they meet existing terms.
He has also pledged to increase crude oil production to 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of his six-year term.
Average production in August was 1.82 million bpd, well below the record high of 3.4 million bpd recorded in 2004.
López Obrador plans to invest 75 billion pesos (US $4 billion) in oil exploration and drilling during his first year in office.
He has also announced plans to build a new refinery in Tabasco and revamp the six that are already in operation.