Zama, a highly contested oil field

In Mexico, the Zama oil field is at the heart of the discussions. Pemex intends to take control of its 850 million barrels and says it is ready to invest billions of dollars. However, it must wait for the agreement of Talos Energy, which owns 17.35% of the field.

Zama, an oil field in the Gulf of Mexico, is at the center of covetousness. Pemex is seeking to take control. This deposit is particularly coveted, especially by Talos Energy.

Pemex has announced that it is ready to invest billions of dollars in Zama, once Talos Energy accepts the Mexican company to be in charge of the site.

Zama, a key deposit

In a context of global energy insecurity, Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador is seeking to strengthen state control over energy. The Zama deposit therefore represents an important stake in this strategy.

In fact, more than 850 million barrels are at stake. Thus, in view of the stakes, the two companies are opposed. The case then moved to the international level when Talos Energy requested international arbitration under the USMCA. Obrador intends to put Pemex in charge of the Zama operation, prompting the Biden administration to call for talks to resolve the disputes.

Octavio Romero, General Manager of Pemex, is hoping for a positive response from Talos to develop the company’s Zama project. In addition, among the consortium of Talos, Harbor Energy and Wintershall Dea, the other two companies seem to be in agreement with Pemex.

However, Talos, which owns 17.35% of Zama, intends to have a say in how the field is operated. On the Pemex side, independent analysts estimate that the company owns 50.43% of Zama’s reserves.

A project too ambitious?

The deposit would therefore represent an important opportunity for Pemex. Despite this, there are still concerns about the site and Pemex. Some have doubts about Pemex’s ability to run Zama.

Gonzalo Monroy, analyst, comments:

“Pemex needs to take into account the exploration expenses of the companies and inject new investment into the project. This is especially true since Pemex wants to add two more fields to the project, which would increase the assets but also the need for investment, and could atomize the interests of the other companies.”

On the question of funding, Romero says they will invest whatever is necessary, whatever it takes. According to him, the investments will be minimal in the first year but will quickly reach billions of dollars. Pemex has financial debts of $108.1 billion and $13.7 billion in debts to its suppliers.

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