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Pemex Sees Supreme Court Support for Oil Contracts

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, said that the preliminary votes from Mexico’s Supreme Court mean that the new performance-based contracts are legitimate.

In a preliminary vote, nine Supreme Court justices upheld a regulation allowing Pemex to pay bonuses to contractors after they meet exploration and production goals, according to an e-mailed court transcript of today’s session.

After the vote, Pemex said “the Supreme Court has declared constitutional Pemex’s bylaws,” on its twitter account. A company press official confirmed the authenticity of the Twitter post.

Mexico’s Supreme Court is assessing claims from some lawmakers that the contracts, designed to help counter a five-year slump in crude output, violate a constitutional ban against giving oil royalties to any private or foreign-owned company.

State-owned Pemex plans to hire companies to maximize reserves in older fields and also explore in deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico, where it estimates it may have 30 billion barrels of oil. Pemex is targeting companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc. Pemex has been preparing the performance-based accords since Mexico revised its oil laws in 2008 to allow the hiring of foreign companies.

Chief Justice Guillermo Ortiz said that the debate for the two challenges from lawmakers to Pemex’s bylaws will continue on Dec. 6, according to the court transcript. Earlier in the week, the court had dismissed a portion of one of the challenges related to the language of the articles.

A final vote will occur after the Supreme Court reviews all the issues in both of the two challenges.

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