Pemex in Talks for $4 Billion Investment Fund With China

Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil producer, is negotiating with Chinese companies to create a fund valued at as much as $4 billion to invest and finance projects.

The proposed arrangement is in a “final stage of negotiations,” Pemex, as the Mexico City-based oil producer is known, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday, correcting an earlier filing that said a deal had already been signed.

The Sino-Mex Energy Fund would be the largest Chinese investment fund in Latin America, according to the earlier statement sent to the Mexican Stock Exchange. The prospective agreement between Pemex’s international unit PMI Comercio Internacional and Xinxing Ductile Iron Pipes, SPF Capital Hong Kong Ltd. and other Chinese companies would be used to finance large-scale projects and create jobs.

Pemex is seeking to increase sales to Asia and Europe to offset falling oil exports to the U.S., Mexico’s largest crude buyer. U.S. oil imports from Mexico have fallen 47 percent in the past decade, dropping to a 20-year low, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Pemex has announced plans this year to export light crude to Japan, Hawaii, India and Switzerland, and will continue to pursue new partners in Asia and the Pacific region, Gustavo Hernandez, Pemex’s director of exploration and production, said last week.

Mexico signed a landmark energy bill last year to end Pemex’s production monopoly and allow for private investment in the oil industry. Pemex’s production has fallen to 2.5 million barrels a day from 3.3 million in 2004.

The government is also considering creating a fund allowing it to partner with third-party investors to develop fields, similar to Norway’s Petoro AS, that may require as much as 30 percent participation in contracts it seeks.

The continued decline in Mexican oil output “has been one of the causes” of weak economic growth in the first quarter, Carlos Capistran, Bank of America Corp.’s chief economist in Mexico, said in e-mailed report yesterday.

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