Pemex’s March Crude Production Falls to Lowest Level Since 1995

Petroleos Mexicanos’ March oil production slid to its lowest monthly level in almost two decades after output declines accelerated at the world’s fifth-largest crude oil producer.

Monthly crude production fell to 2.47 million barrels a day through March 30 as output at the company’s largest Ku-Maloob-Zapp and Cantarell fields dropped from the previous month, state-owned Pemex said today in a preliminary report. March was Mexico City-based Pemex’s smallest monthly output since October 1995 when it produced 1.898 million barrels a day.

Pemex is banking on a December law change allowing foreign companies to join the energy industry to boost investment and increase national oil production to 3 million daily barrels by 2018, the government has said. The energy overhaul, which President Enrique Pena Nieto called the most important economic change in 50 years, is expected to raise as much as $30 billion a year in foreign investment, according to Edgar Rangel, commissioner of the National Hydrocarbons Commission.

“Despite Pemex’s multibillion dollar investments each year, production has unfortunately continued falling,” Pena Nieto said at the company’s expropriation anniversary on March 18. “The energy reform will free Pemex from bureaucratic leashes and obstacles that have impeded its development.”

Declining Decade

The company plans to spend a record $27.7 billion this year, of which 85 percent will be earmarked for exploration and production, Chief Financial Officer Mario Beauregard said Feb. 27, the day Pemex posted a fifth consecutive quarterly loss as production heads toward a decade of declining output.

Production at Pemex, the third-largest crude oil exporter to the U.S., has plummeted as output at the aging Cantarell field plunged more than 80 percent since 2004. The company’s output averaged a monthly decline of 1.6 percent, its fastest pace since 2010, during the past 12 months.

CEO Emilio Lozoya, who originally forecast output would reach 2.6 million barrels a day this year, said last week that target levels for 2014 are “above 2.5 million barrels a day.” Production fell to 2.52 million barrels a day in 2013, Pemex has said.

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