May 25, 2011 / 2:55 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Mexico trumpets "significant" deepwater gas find

* Pemex sees at least 400 billion cubic feet found

* Piklis lies near other gas discoveries

* Mexico still needs more oil finds to sustain industry

(Recasts, adds background, detail)

MEXICO CITY, May 25 (Reuters) - Mexico’s state oil monopoly Pemex said on Wednesday it had made a “significant” natural gas discovery in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pemex said its Piklis-1 well, drilled at some 5.4 km (3.4 miles), the deepest level yet by the Mexican firm, found an estimated 400 to 600 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

The discovery, located near other deepwater gas finds, boosts Pemex’s understanding of what appears to be a large gas-rich area in the Gulf, but does not bring it any closer to making much-needed major oil discoveries.

Mexico, the world’s No. 7 oil exporter, relies on mature oil fields for the bulk of its approximately 2.55 million barrels per day in output and although exploration success has improved, analysts question the industry’s long-term future.

Mexico relies on oil exports for about a third of government revenues. The decline in Mexico’s oil industry, which lost nearly a quarter of its output capacity over five years before Pemex stabilized production in 2009, has led to downgrades of its sovereign debt rating.

Pemex has been studying development options for the Lakach gas discovery but low North American gas prices have weighed on the project while reserves found so far are too small to justify a major liquefied natural gas export facility.

Reporting by Dave Graham, Michael O'Boyle and Robert Campbell

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