| MEXICO CITY, June 19
MEXICO CITY, June 19 Political wrangling in
Mexico means Congress is unlikely to approve before July
legislation to complete an energy overhaul at the center of
President Enrique Pena Nieto's economic agenda, lawmakers said
The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had
hoped to pass in June the so-called secondary laws for a reform
that will offer oil production and exploration rights to private
companies, ending a state monopoly that dates back to 1938.
Pena Nieto hopes the reform will revive Latin America's no.
2 economy, which has underperformed regional peers for years.
The PRI lacks a majority in Congress and has relied chiefly
on support from the center-right opposition National Action
Party (PAN) to muster votes for its energy reform.
Wary of public opposition to the reform, however, Pena Nieto
has also tried to keep the main center-left opposition Party of
the Democratic Revolution (PRD) at the negotiating table, which
has become an awkward balancing act for the government.
The energy laws have been a bargaining chip for the
opposition, and both PRD and PAN lawmakers have staged walkouts
from talks over the reform in the last few days to apply
pressure on other ongoing political discussions in Congress.
As a result, both PRI and PAN lawmakers say approving the
secondary laws, which set out details of how the new energy
regime will work, no longer looks feasible in June.
"With the legislative set-up as it stands, we hope the
energy reform will be finalized in the first few days of July.
That's the impression we all have," said Ernesto Gandara, a PRI
senator on the energy committee in the upper house of Congress.
The secondary laws to oversee the industry in the world's
10th biggest producer of crude are being closely watched by oil
majors such as BP Plc and Exxon Mobil.
Jorge Lavalle, a PAN member of the Senate energy committee,
blamed the hold-up on delaying tactics by the PRD, which plans
to hold a national referendum in 2015 to overturn the reform.
"If all goes well, we could be in a position to be approving
the reform in the first ten days of July," Lavalle said.
However, if disputes continue, it could take longer, he added.
As Congress debates, the government faces a mid-September
deadline to determine which oil fields remain with state-run
company Pemex, and which will be up for grabs by private firms.
Lawmakers are also seeking agreement on the secondary laws
for Pena Nieto's 2013 reform of the telecommunications and
television markets, which aims to curb the power of tycoon
Carlos Slim and dominant broadcaster Televisa.
Those laws have also been held up, but senior legislators
are hopeful that they can be put to a vote this month.
(Reporting by Dave Graham; editing by Gunna Dickson)