By David Alire Garcia
MEXICO CITY Feb 7 In a major leadership shakeup
for Mexican oil giant Pemex, just as the ailing
state-run energy sector is being pried open, exploration and
production chief Carlos Morales has resigned, CEO Emilio Lozoya
said in a tweet on Friday.
Morales, head of Pemex's exploration and production arm
since 2004, has stepped down for "personal reasons" and will be
replaced on an interim basis by the division's planning head,
Gustavo Hernandez, a Pemex spokesman said.
The change comes after President Enrique Pena Nieto last
year pushed through a major overhaul of the state energy sector
to open it up to foreign investment, but the leadership change
was not expected to mark a shift in the company's policies.
Mexico is the world's 10th biggest crude oil producer with
2.5 million barrels per day, but the country has seen output
slide by a quarter and exports drop by a third since 2004.
Secondary laws that govern implementation of the energy
reform are expected by April. The reform is part of a wider
overhaul of the economy, spanning taxes to telecoms, that Pena
Nieto hopes will boost competition and long-lagging growth.
"Right now is a key moment for Pemex, and this is actually a
bad sign," said Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at
Houston-based Rice University. "What this tells me is there may
be some internal disagreements playing out."
Alongside the reforms, Pemex is in the final stages of
evaluating which oil and gas fields it aims to keep in a
so-called Round Zero allocation.
Pemex was the only entity allowed by the Mexican
constitution to exploit the country's energy riches prior to the
reform, which ended the company's 75-year exploration and
Until a permanent replacement is named by Pena Nieto,
Hernandez will oversee the Round Zero allocation process, as
well as potential joint ventures with foreign oil majors that
the company may seek out after the allocations are set.
Pemex has until March 21 to finalize the list of fields it
seeks to keep, and then Mexico's energy ministry will have six
months to determine the company's technical and financial
ability to successfully develop them.
Lozoya told Reuters last month that Pemex will ask to keep
all the fields it currently has in development, both onshore and
offshore, as well as areas where the company has conducted
exploration work and seismic studies.
A top energy ministry official said earlier this month that
the first international public tenders for development rights to
new fields will take place by the end of 2015 or the beginning