According to columnist Ana Paula Ordorica, the Pemex board of directors opened investigations into three issues that occurred when Emilio Lozoya was head of the state oil company: contracts with the Brazilian contractor Odebrecht, the purchase of two fertilizer companies, and the acquisition of nine aircraft.
Lozoya, a close personal friend of Enrique Peña Nieto, was CEO of Pemex from the beginning of the EPN government in Dec. 2012 to Feb. 2016.
Odebrecht has confessed to paying US$10.5 million in bribes to Pemex officials, during both the Calderón and EPN governments. (The Odebrecht contracts have been put under seal.) Little apparent progress has been made by Mexican authorities in pursuing a corruption case that was handed them on a silver platter.
In Jan. 2014 and Jan. 2016, Pemex inexplicably purchased two fertilizer manufacturing companies for a total of US$730 million, for reasons that have never been explained adequately. (The documents justifying the purchase were also placed under seal for 12 years.) In January 2017, the company hired UBS to sell the money-losing operations.
Finally, Pemex purchased 5 airplanes and 4 helicopters while Lozoya was CEO for almost US$100 million “to strengthen Pemex’s operational capabilities.” However, according the audits of the company, at least four of the aircraft were never entered as assets in the company’s books, and they appear to have been used for personal purposes.
In response to requests for information about its Odebrecht contracts under the transparency laws, Pemex Industrial Transformation (the refining arm) acknowledged two contracts but said that they had been put under seal until February 2023. The company said that “to disclose the contracts would put at risk the investigations being carried out by PGR and SFP,” (the Justice Ministry and the Public Function Secretariat).
Perhaps another sign that the investigation of the bribes that Odebrecht confessed paying between 2010 and 2014 will be less than vigorous.
Protests continued around the country against the Jan. 1 gasoline price hikes last weekend. A peaceful protest in Monterrey at the Governor’s Palace was taken over by anarchists and became violent, with stained glass windows smashed and fires set. Police reportedly stood by and did nothing. President Peña Nieto’s brief New Year’s televised message on the 5th was milquetoast. The gasoline price hikes, he said,
Come from abroad. The government will not receive one cent more in taxes from the increase. To try to maintain an artificial price for gasoline would have required us to cut social programs, increase taxes or increase the country’s debt, putting at risk the stability of the entire economy.
On Saturday, President Felipe Calderón announced a cabinet reshuffle, with an eye to the 2012 election. Juan Molinar Horcasitas, one of Calderón’s closest political advisers, resigned as Secretary of Communications and Transportation in order “to participate intensively in political-party work that is important for the life of the country” according to the President’s statement. He is being replaced by Dionisio Pérez-Jácome, who has been Undersecretary of Finance for Expenditures and who also briefly served as presidential chief of staff.
Molinar’s record as head of SCT was not stellar. The ministry continued to be bedeviled by technical problems in executing the government’s ambitious transportation infrastructure program. And little headway was made in the area of telecommunications policy, where the award of a large bloc of wireless spectrum to a Nextel-Televisa consortium was drowned in a sea of lawsuits and the withdrawal of Televisa.
The President also named congressman Roberto Gil Zuarth as his new private secretary, replacing Luis Felipe Bravo Mena. Gil Zuarth had been widely seen as the President’s preferred candidate to take over the PAN in the party’s recent election of a new leader (an election won by Senator Gustavo Madero). Bravo Mena is returning to the private sector.
As noted by El Universal’s Bajo Reserva column: “Inside and outside his party, the PAN, the reading [of the changes] was the same: it is a signal that Calderón is not packing his bags and ready to give up power, perhaps to a political adversary. [The appointments] announced yesterday were a demonstration that he will give battle to everyone, including those within his own party.”
Georgina Kessel moves from Secretary of Energy to the President of Banobras, the development bank. She replaces Alonso García Tamés, who returns to the private sector.
José Antonio Meade, Undersecretary of Finance, becomes the new Secretary of Energy. Meade becomes the last of the senior level technocratic ‘old guard’ of the Ministry of Finance to leave, a process that started with the appointment of Ernesto Cordero as Finance Secretary in December 2009.
More than two years after the passage of the energy reform, one of its critical elements — the so-called incentivated or integrated service contracts for oil exploration by private sector contractors– appears almost ready. The Pemex board agreed yesterday to hold a special board meeting on the 16th to consider and give final approval to the new contractual mechanism. These contracts are viewed by the Government as critical for enlisting the support of third-party contractors for exploration and development of oil and gas fields, while respecting the constitutional prohibitions on risk contracts and production sharing agreements. The incentivated contracts provide for two kinds of payments: one based on reimbursement of costs and the second based on the amount of petroleum discovered. This latter provision is being challenged as unconstitutional by the Chamber of Deputies and the matter is with the Supreme Court.
If the board endorses the contracts, the official in charge of the new contracts Sergio Guaso said Pemex expects to start awarding contracts based on the new mechanism in 3Q11.
Pemex plans to hold four bidding rounds using the new contracts. The first will be to reactivate the mature Magallanes, Carrizo and Santuario fields in the southern region; the second for mature fields in the north; the third in the Chicontepec region; and finally, in the deep waters of the Gulf.
(Excelsior 11/11, Pemex 11/10)
In an interview, Carlos Morales Gil, the head of production and exploration for Pemex, acknowledged that the state oil company has had to shut in gas production of 150,000 cubic feet/day in the Burgos basin south of the Texas border because of the inability to ensure the security of some of the gas wells. (At US$3.50 per cu.ft., the lost production is the equivalent of US$525,000 per day.) Morales said there had been no news of the six Pemex employees who were kidnapped on May 23d. “We’ve increased security, together with the Ministry of Defense, in the installations in the northeastern zone of the country, which has allowed us to partially recover the production that was reduced. However, there are zones where it is not safe to go, because of the crime threats to our people,” he said. (Reforma 11/10)
Pemex CEO Juan José Suárez Coppel reportedly testified at a closed hearing in Congress that the Gigante Uno gas well was still closed as a result of lack of security and that the five Pemex workers kidnapped one month ago are still missing. Suárez Coppel denied that the narcos controlled the well. Carlos Morales Gil, the head of Pemex Exploration and Production, said the closure of Gigante Uno cost the company US$160,000 per day. Morales said, “Effectively, in the northern part of Tamaulipas state and in part of northern Nuevo Leon, we have been living with a set of circumstances that make it complicated to operate,” but said that the blockades of installations have not been permanent. (Reforma 6/25)