MEXICO CITY Aug 26 Crude output from Mexico's
struggling Cantarell oil field fell for the 10th month in a row
in July to 974,000 barrels per day, energy ministry data showed
The fading jewel of Mexico's oil industry, Cantarell is now
producing half what it was yielding at its 2004 peak, pulling
down overall output in the world's No. 6 oil-producing nation
and threatening Mexico's status as a top U.S. supplier.
The steady decline of around 15 percent annually in the
field's output has pressured the divided Congress to tweak laws
in the closed energy sector. The government, with backing from
centrists, hopes to push a bill through congress to allow more
private participation in the state-run oil business.
The conservative government's proposal seeks to shore up
flagging output and reserves by having the national monopoly
Pemex hire private companies under incentive-fee contracts,
particularly in costly high-risk areas like deepwater oil.
Output at Cantarell, a shallow field in the southern Gulf
of Mexico, fell again in July from 1.018 million bpd in June.
Cantarell, for years the source of 60 percent of Mexico's
crude, accounted for 35 percent of Mexico's overall July oil
output, down from 36 percent in June.
A senior Pemex executive said in July that output at
Cantarell would drop to just 600,000 bpd by 2012.
While lawmakers debate bringing in more private investment,
which is politically sensitive, Pemex is trying to increase
output at less productive fields, such as the offshore Ku
Maloob Zaap complex and the onshore Chicontepec field.
Seismic tests indicate there could be huge deep-sea oil
deposits in the Mexican Gulf. But with laws against foreign
partners, Pemex executives say it could be 20 years before
Mexico is producing substantial quantities of deepwater oil.
(Reporting by Cyntia Barrera Diaz; Editing by David