Mexico Oil And Gas Profile
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  • In 2010, Mexico was the seventh-largest oil producer in the world, and the third-largest in the Western Hemisphere. State-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) is one of the largest oil companies in the world. However, oil production has decreased in recent years as production at the giant Cantarell field continues to decline.
  • The oil sector is a crucial component of Mexico's economy: while its relative importance to the general Mexican economy has declined in the long term, the oil sector still generated 14 percent of the country's export earnings in 2010, according to Mexico's central bank. More importantly, the government relies upon earnings from the oil industry (including taxes and direct payments from Pemex) for 32 percent of total government revenues. Therefore, any decline in oil production has a direct effect upon the country's overall fiscal balance.
  • In early 2011, Mexico held licensing rounds for performance-based contracts on oil blocks allowing participation to foreign oil companies for the first time since the nationalization of the oil industry in 1938. The foreign firms will have no ownership rights over any oil they produce, but they are expected to provide Mexican fields with badly needed technological improvements.


  • 1938 - President Lazaro Cardenas del Rio issued an executive order to expropriate the real estate property and the movable property of 17 foreign oil companies. Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) was created
  • 1950 - The refinery "Ing. Antonio M. Amor" is inaugurated, in Salamanca, Guanajuato
  • 1952 - Mexican geologist discovered the extension of the "Faja de Oro"
  • 1956 - The refinery "Gral. Lazaro Cardenas del Rio" is inaugurated in Minatitlan, Veracruz
  • 1972 - The oil region called "Mesozoico" Chiapas-Tabasco is discovered in the southeast of the country
  • 1976 - The refinery "Miguel Hidalgo" is inaugurated in Tula, Hidalgo
  • 1978 - The "Cantarell" offshore field, in the "Sonda de Campeche", is confirmed to be one of the largest offshore fields in the world. The reserves reached 40.194 billion barrels
  • 1979 - The refineries "Hector R. Lara Sosa", in Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon and "Antonio Dovali Jaime", are inaugurated in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca. The drilling of the "Maalob 1" well confirms the discovery of the "Ku-Maalob-Zaap" field, the second most important field in the country after "Cantarell"
  • 1987 - The enlargement of the refinery "Miguel Hidalgo" in Tula, Hidalgo begins operations
  • 1992 - A new Organic Law of Petroleos Mexicanos and Subsidiary Organisms which defines Petroleos Mexicanos as an entity decentralized of the Federal Government, responsible for running the national oil industry is issued
  • 1997 - The "Cantarell" project begins; it was designed to optimize the field exploitation. The Reconfiguration process of the "Cadereyta" and Ciudad Madero refineries began
  • 2001 - The "Burgos" project is started up north of the country in order to increase the natural gas production
  • 2009: The construction of a new refinery in Tula, Hidalgo begins


  • Before the energy reforms of 2013, PEMEX retained a monopoly on natural gas exploration, but the government allowed private participation in non-associated gas exploration and production.
  • The Mexican government opened the downstream natural gas sector to private operators in 1995, although no single company may participate in more than one downstream function (transportation, storage, or distribution). The Comisión Reguladora de Energía (CRE) was created to monitor the sector.


  • According to the Oil & Gas Journal (OGJ), Mexico had 10 billion barrels of proved oil reserves as of the end of 2013. Most reserves consist of heavy crude oil varieties, with the largest concentration occurring offshore of the southern part of the country, particularly the Campeche Basin. There are also sizable reserves in onshore basins in the northern parts of the country.
  • According to OGJ, Mexico had 17 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proved natural gas reserves at year-end 2013. While the southern region of the country contains the largest share of proved reserves, the northern region has the potential to be the center of growth in future reserves, as it contains almost 10 times as much probable and possible natural gas reserves.
  • Most of Mexico's oil production occurs off the eastern coast in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico, near the states of Veracruz, Tabasco, and Campeche. The two main production centers in the area are Cantarell and Ku-Maloob-Zaap (KMZ). In total, approximately 1.9 million bbl/d — or three-quarters — of Mexico's crude oil is produced offshore in the Bay of Campeche. Because of the concentration of Mexico's oil production offshore, tropical storms or hurricanes passing through the area can disrupt oil operations.

Active Companies

  • Mexico nationalized its oil sector in 1938, and PEMEX was created as the sole oil operator in the country. PEMEX is the largest company in Mexico and one of the largest oil companies in the world.

Crude Oils

  • Mexican authorities report that the country exported 1.19 million bbl/d of crude oil in 2013, a decline that has occurred since 2010. The United States received approximately 71% of Mexico's oil exports, which arrived by tanker. Most Mexican crude oil exports to the United States are Maya blend, while Mexico retains most of the output from its lighter crude streams—Isthmus and Olmeca—for domestic consumption.


  • According to PEMEX, the company operates over 7,400 miles of natural gas pipelines in Mexico. The company has 11 natural gas processing centers with 69 natural gas processing plants. PEMEX operates most of the country's natural gas distribution network, which supplies processed natural gas to consumption centers. The natural gas pipeline network includes 13 operational interconnections with the United States, and at least 2 new pipeline interconnections are planned to supply the growth in Mexico's natural gas demand.


  • Mexico meets some of its natural gas demand with LNG. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Mexico imported roughly 224 Bcf of LNG in 2012, of which 40% came from Qatar, 22% from Nigeria, and 15% from Peru, with smaller volumes from Indonesia and other countries. Mexico's LNG supply mix has changed in recent years, as increased volumes from Qatar displaced LNG from Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago, and most notably Nigeria, which had been Mexico's largest source of LNG.
  • There are three import terminals, Manzanillo LNG Terminal, Costa Azul LNG Terminal & Altamira LNG Terminal


  • Mexico has six refineries, all operated by PEMEX, with a total refining capacity of 1.54 million bbl/d as of the end of 2013. According to PEMEX, actual refinery output was 1.46 million bbl/d in 2013, below capacity but an increase after two consecutive years of decline. PEMEX also controls 50% of the 334,000-bbl/d Deer Park refinery in Texas.

List of Mexican Refineries

Relevant Links

  1. Energy Regulatory Commission
  2. National Hydrocarbons Commission
  3. EIA Mexico
  4. Pemex

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