Mexico could lift ban on oil industry investments

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed on Monday lifting a decades-old ban on private companies investing in the state-run oil industry, a cornerstone of Mexico's national pride that's seen production plummet in recent decades.

The reform would allow profit-sharing contracts with private companies that have exploration know-how in deep water and other difficult areas that the state-owned oil company, Pemex, doesn't have. Such contracts are prohibited by the constitution.

The leftist Democratic Revolution Party says it won't support constitutional changes, but Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party and the conservative National Action Party have enough votes combined to secure the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate to pass the change.

Pena Nieto's administration offered no details about how it envisioned private participation or the percentage of profits that could be shared.

Mexico's oil fields are drying up and Pemex lacks the equipment to explore for new reserves in deep water or to extract shale gas. Production has plunged about 25 percent over the last decade.

Mexico produces about 2.5 million barrels a day. Mexico sends 85 percent of its oil exports to the United States and regularly ranks among the top foreign sources of oil used in the U.S.


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