2013 will no doubt be remembered as a decisive year for the Mexican oil and gas industry. Although there are obvious reasons why this statement rings true (Energy Reform being chief among them), perhaps it is important to briefly go over certain overlooked industry developments from 2013. It is possible that we then might realize that some of the most influential changes in this industry might end up being those that were considered minor or merely curious when they took place.
The year began in a state of exciting uncertainty for the industry; with the beginning of a new administration came a new Energy Minister and a new CEO for Pemex. Energy Reform was still an abstraction; although key decision makers in the industry had a clear idea of the essential changes that the reform had to include, nobody could predict how the political & legislative process would dictate the timeframe of its passing.
By the middle of the year, the tension that was building as the official announcement of the executive Energy Reform proposal approached partly masked the headlines surrounding the curious results of the third round of ISCs. Despite the mixed feelings expressed by industry leaders at these results, they marked two definitive developments for the Mexican oil and gas landscape: the possible future (or exhaustion, depending on who you ask) of integrated service contracts as an industry growth driver, and the complete entrance of Halliburton, a large yet controversial player, into the Mexican oil and gas industry (through the much talked-about awarding of the Humapa block in the Chicontepec region). Only time will tell the extent and nature of the impact that these developments will have on the industry, but it is nothing short of naïve to think of them as minor.
After the executive and alternative proposals for Energy Reform were put on the table on August, the second half of the year was focused on a protracted and byzantine legislative process that, by muddling and blurring the borders between Energy Reform, Fiscal Reform and Political Reform without a clear understanding of the actual crossroads between them, managed to confuse and befuddle the Mexican public to the point of mental exhaustion. Meanwhile, the entire downstream sector of the Mexican oil and gas industry went through a radical transformation; it is possible that more refineries and petrochemical facilities were sold, auctioned and/or put under private remodeling contracts in this period of time than in any other in recent history. Again, we see an example of the Energy Reform headline factory masking truly influential processes that might not receive as much attention as they deserve when reviewing 2013 as a year in the history of the Mexican oil and gas industry.
The year ended with the surreal scramble that led to the final passing and ratification of the Energy Reform. 2013 will be forever defined by what happened in little more than one week of December; here’s hoping that future historians and analysts of the Mexican oil and gas industry do not overlook these previously mentioned additional developments when weighing the true impact that this year had on the industry, the economy and the country.