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Mexico Refuses to Cut Oil Output and Is Running Up Huge Losses

  • Big-spending Pemex stands out as regional peers slash outlays
  • Other top regional producers are cutting spending and output
McDermott International Presents Completion Of ABkatun-A2 Oil Platform As Pemex Expected To Start Operations In April
Photographer: Luis Antonio Rojas/Bloomberg
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Outside of Saudi Arabia and Russia, most oil producers are racing to deal with the historic oil price collapse by cutting back spending and in some cases production. But Mexico’s national oil company is acting like the crash never happened.

Petroleos Mexicanos aims to nearly double drilling to 423 wells this year and accelerate development of 15 recent discoveries, even though experts say many are unprofitable at current prices. It hasn’t announced changes to the production goal it set out in its five-year business plan of 1.87 million barrels a day, an 11% rise compared to last year, or investment in exploration and production of 270 billion pesos ($11.1 billion).

Meanwhile, the global oil and gas industry is expected to slash $100 billion in exploration and production spending in a 17% drop on year, according to consultancy Rystad Energy AS. Brazil’s Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Colombia’s Ecopetrol SA have both slashed capital spending, and Petrobras went as far as shutting in 200,000 barrels a day of unprofitable production in a country with little storage capacity.

“If that is the path you want to go down in this environment, you will most certainly burn cash,” said Ruaraidh Montgomery, research director from oil consultancy Welligence. “Petrobras is genuinely run as independent entity that is there to generate profits, but with Pemex, the government’s priority is production growth.”