President López Obrador denied on Thursday that Pemex is seeking to take over a Gulf of México oilfield where a United States company discovered a significant reserve in 2017.
A report published on September 30 by the news agency Reuters said the state oil company wants to seize control of Zama, a shallow water field containing almost a billion barrels of oil that is operated by a consortium led by Texas-based Talos Energy.
According to an unpublished draft report by the consultancy Wood Mackenzie, about a third of the reserve likely extends into an adjacent Pemex field although that hasn’t been confirmed because the state-run company hasn’t yet drilled there.
Asked at his regular news conference whether Pemex was seeking operational control of Zama, López Obrador responded:
“No, it’s a reserve that is shared with Pemex and there is no problem.”
The president asserted that his administration is not reviewing any exploration or drilling contracts awarded by the past government following the 2014 energy reform.
“We don’t commit any arbitrary acts,” López Obrador said.
The president also responded to a report published today by the newspaper Reforma which quoted a U.S. Department of State official as describing the possibility of Pemex taking over control of Talos’ project as a “disturbing development.”
Kurt Donnelly, deputy assistant secretary for energy diplomacy, also said that the United States government would defend U.S. interests in Mexico and has communicated as much to the López Obrador administration.
“Mexico was seemingly on the right path. This might indicate that they are deviating,” he told Reforma.
López Obrador said the official was misinformed and questioned why he hadn’t discussed the issue with the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs.
“. . . With all respect, why is the Department of State intervening [in this way]. They should do it through Foreign Affairs, ask us for information . . . They have to act with respect to our sovereignty,” he said.