Industry observers expect robust Mexico deepwater round
Mexico's deepwater Gulf of Mexico bid round on January 31 should see significant participation from international oil companies, continuing the momentum the country achieved in recent rounds, industry observers there and in the US say.
Round 2.4 offers an unexplored region with the same high prospectivity as the oil-rich geology in the adjacent US Gulf.
Mexico's National Hydrocarbon Commission is auctioning 29 blocks across the Perdido Fold Belt, Cordilleras Mexicanas and salt basins, with resources including heavy and light oil and wet and dry gas. With a total area of 65,000 sq km, CNH estimates these blocks together hold 4.22 billion barrels of oil equivalent in prospective resources. More blocks are offered than originally planned due to large demand from IOCs, according to the CNH.
The commission Thursday said it approved 26 bidders to participate in the auction, nine individually and 17 consortiums. This will also be the first auction under which Mexico will allow companies to form as many joint bids as they want. Among approved bidders are Chevron in consortium with Pemex and Inpex; BP along with Statoil and Total; Eni and Citla Energy; and BHP Billiton and CNOOC as solo participants.
This bid round follows round 1.4 in December 2016, in which eight of the 10 available blocks were awarded.
To date, Mexico has granted licenses for 70 out of 94 blocks across its previous seven auction rounds, a success rate of 75%, and the secretariat, or SENER, has said it expected seven out of 29 blocks to be awarded in the upcoming bid round.
Mexico's initial round 1.1 in July 2015 was a disappointment, as it only awarded two of 14 blocks. Since then, both CNH and SENER have been in talks with IOCs about making the auctions more attractive. The improved tender terms were met with positive results, capturing the attention of multiple operators, said Bill Fuller, S&P Global Platts Analytics' senior director of global oil supply forecasting in New York.
SHARING SPOTLIGHT WITH BRAZIL
The successful auctioning of Mexico's deepwater blocks is key to recovering from its sliding production. The country produced 1.948 million b/d in 2017, down from 3.4 million b/d in 2004, according to Pemex. The International Energy Agency now forecasts that Mexico will return to 2004 levels in 2040, with deepwater projects supplying a quarter of the country's total output.
This auction round also will be a test of the attractiveness of Mexico's unexplored but highly prospective deepwater regions, against a competitive backdrop of a recovering Brazilian energy landscape.
That country had changed the rules for IOCs to participate in its oil industry, allowing them to participate in tenders without being minor partners of state-led Petrobras.
In October, Brazil awarded six of eight blocks available, gaining investment pledges from Shell, ExxonMobil and BP out of 16 registered bidders.
With Brazil's return to the spotlight, some analysts have questioned if experienced oil operators have enough resources to invest both there and in Mexico, as well as other regions.
Maximino-Nobilis is expected to have a plateau of 200,000 b/d and 380 MMcf/d. It has 500 million boe of proven, probable and possible reserves and 1.5 million boe of prospective resources, according to CNH data.
Both Haynes & Boone's Corzo and the S&P Global Platts Analytics analysts said the failure of the Maximino-Nobilis farm-out is not an indicator of the potential results for round 2.4.
Pemex and BHP Billiton's Trion joint project located in the Perdido Fold Belt is expected to be Mexico's first deepwater project, with a production start circa 2025, and thus will provide clues on the competitiveness of the region.
Pemex's communications department this week declined to comment on its expected production costs.
( 译者：耿千千 )