Mexico’s prez-elect broaches oil privatization —almost

At least 26 are dead, 50 injured and seven still missing after a Sept. 18 explosion at a Petróleos Mexicanos  (Pemex) gas pipeline distribution center on the outskirts of Reynosa, on the Texas border in Tamaulipas state. The dead include four Pemex employees and 22 private contractors. The pipeline serves wells in northern Mexico’s Burgos basin, which have been repeatedly attacked for pilfering by criminal gangs such as Los Zetas. Last month, Pemex said the amount of petroleum products stolen in the first half of this year is up 18% compared to 2011, totalling more than 1.8 million barrels. But the company denied that criminal activity was linked to the Reynosa blast. (Brownsville Herald, Sept. 19; OilPrice, Aug. 21)

On the same day that the Reynosa plant exploded into flames, Mexico’s president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto told business leaders gathered at the Sao Paulo Federation of Industries in Brazil that the private sector must be allowed to help modernize Pemex. He said increasing productivity and making the state-owned giant more competitive “will only be possible through partnerships with the private sector.” He emphasized that he is not proposing the privatization of Pemex. (AP, Sept. 19)

Days earlier, Pemex signed a contract with California-based Bechtel Hydrocarbon Technology Solutions Inc (BHTS), for technical assistance at a new refinery in the central Mexican city of Tula, Hidalgo. (MarketWatch, Sept. 14)

See our last post on the struggle for Pemex.