Oil companies from 16 countries, including China, are set to bid Wednesday for exploration and exploitation rights to 14 offshore Mexican oilfields, in the first bidding of its type since the energy sector was opened to private investment.
Mexico hopes the initial sale of its Round One bidding will not only help boost the nation's oil output, but also generate 16.76 billion U.S. dollars in investment and 168,000 jobs over the next five years.
A total of 17 companies will be bidding individually, and another 16 companies will put in their bids as part of seven consortiums. The firms represent countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania, including Argentina, Colombia, the United States, Mexico, Denmark, Spain, France, England, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Russia, China, India, Malaysia and Australia.
Although details of the companies have not been disclosed yet, all the firms have prior experience in offshore oil exploration and extraction, and industrial security and environmental protection, and have undergone financial capacity studies by Mexico's Finance Ministry, according to the Ministry of Energy.
The 14 fields, located in shallow waters along Mexico's Gulf coast states of Veracruz, Tabasco and Campeche, range in size from 116 square km to 501 sq km, in a total area of 4,222 sq km.
The winning bids will go to the companies that offer the Mexican government the largest share of profits, Mexico's Energy Minister Pedro Joaquin Coldwell said Monday at a press conference.
He added companies weren't expected to begin reaping profits from the fields until the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, as the exploration projects give way to production.
The rights will be valid for 30 years, with two optional five- year extensions, and include a four-year exploration phase that can be extended by two years.
Companies will have to supply a portion of the output to Mexico, ranging from 15 percent during the initial exploration stage to 25 percent at the start of development, and finally 35 percent by 2025.
Mexico's energy sector was nationalized in the 1930s, but President Enrique Pena Nieto introduced constitutional reforms to open the industry to private investment, saying the country lacks the money to modernize its aging energy infrastructure.
Mexico's oil output in the first six months of the year averaged 2.2 million barrels a day, down from some 3 million barrels a day a decade ago.
Mexico's state-run oil company Pemex is not participating in the auction. Also absent is Brazil state oil giant Petrobras, recently embroiled in a corruption scandal which has brought down several top managers amid kickback and bribe probes.