“Even a small deterioration” in its perceived credit risk could take a big financial toll on Mexico.
Mexico’s President-elect, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), does not enter office until December 1, but he’s already making big waves, particularly in the oil and gas industry. On the campaign trail, he pledged to reverse aspects of his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto’s sweeping oil privatization reforms, suspend new oil auctions, and review contracts issued to private energy firms for signs of corruption, which, given the players involved, shouldn’t be hard to find.
All oil and gas auctions have been put on hold in the country until AMLO assumes the office of the presidency. The contracts signed to date alone represent a projected investment of around $200 billion dollars, according tothe Mexican daily El Excelsior. As such, cancelling multi-billion dollar oil and gas contracts will hardly endear AMLO to the oil majors and global investors that have poured funds into Mexico’s newly liberalized energy sector.
This potential 180-degree U-turn in energy policy not only pits Mexican lawmakers against big oil and big money interests; it also puts the world’s most indebted oil company, according to Moody’s, at a very dangerous crossroad.
In a press conference this week AMLO upped the ante by threatening to ban fracking on Mexican soil. As Associated Press reports, when asked about the potential risks of fracking, AMLO said, “We will no longer use that method to extract petroleum.”
AMLO’s riposte is unlikely to please the oil and gas companies that had their sights set on drilling in the Burgos Basin, a region in Mexico’s northern frontier that has a huge potential shale formation similar to the Texas Eagle Ford fields.
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