Mexico on Wednesday auctioned off 19 deep-water oil blocks located in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest such auction since the government opened the country’s hydrocarbons sector to private industry.
Royal Dutch Shell won nine of the blocks – four as a lone bidder, four in a consortium with Qatar Petroleum, and one in association with the state oil giant Petroleos de Mexico (Pemex), Mexican officials said.
Pemex won four blocks, two alone and two in consortium with other companies.
PC Carigali, a unit of Malaysian oil giant Petronas, won six blocks, two alone and four in alliance with other companies.
The blocks are all located off the state of Tamaulipas, on Mexico’s northeastern coast.
Ten more blocks remain unclaimed.
The blocks are together estimated to contain the equivalent of 4.2 billion barrels of oil.
‘This has been another successful day for the oil sector in Mexico,’ said deputy hydrocarbons secretary Aldo Flores.
Flores said the $93 billion expected to be invested in the projects could create 230,000 jobs in the first 15 years. Production could begin as soon as 2028.
Mexico is competing with Brazil to attract investment from the big oil companies for deepwater oil drilling, said Alejandra Leon with the firm IHS Markit.
The auction follows a controversial energy reform in 2013 that saw Pemex lose its seven-decade-old monopoly on hydrocarbon production.
With the landmark change, President Enrique Pena Nieto cleared the path for auctions in a bid to inject foreign capital into the politically-sensitive oil industry.