Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that his government is not seeking to take control of the Zama oilfield discovery, which is currently operated by a private consortium led by U.S.-based Talos Energy. The statement follows on a report from Reuters earlier in the week saying that Mexico’s national oil company, Pemex, wants to take control of Zama from Talos.
The Zama oilfield is the largest discovery since the seventies and is adjacent to an area belonging to Pemex and where the find likely extends.
“It’s a deposit that is shared with Pemex and there’s no problem,” Lopez Obrador told reporters at his regular morning news conference without going into further detail.
An official with the U.S. Department of State also weighed in on Zama, describing the possibility that Pemex could take operational control of the project as a “disturbing development,” according to a report by Mexican newspaper Reforma on Thursday.
The newspaper quoted Kurt Donnelly, the department’s deputy assistant secretary for energy diplomacy, as saying that Washington would seek to defend United States investments in Mexico and that this type of concern has been communicated to Mexican officials.
“Mexico seemingly was in the right path. This might indicate that they are deviating in a way,” Donnelly told Reforma.
Lopez Obrador was asked for his reaction to the U.S. official’s comments but appeared not to be aware of them.
Zama, offshore in the southern Gulf of Mexico, was discovered in 2017 and is believed to contain nearly one billion barrels of oil, making it the largest non-Pemex discovery in Mexico in decades.
Pemex has yet to drill on its neighbouring block to confirm the extension of the discovery. The Talos-led consortium also includes Germany’s Wintershall DEA and Britain’s Premier Oil, which has interests offshore the Falkland Islands in the Sea Lion project.