Exxon Mobil CEO says foreign firms must play waiting game in Mexico

Posted Friday, Apr. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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DALLAS -- Since 2004, U.S. crude oil production is up nearly 20 percent, including four straight years of gains.

Over the same time period, Mexico's oil production is down about 25 percent, including eight straight years of declines.

It's only a matter of time before Mexico allows foreign producers to participate in developing its oil and gas reserves, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson told a Dallas audience Thursday.

March 18, 1938, the day Mexico nationalized its petroleum industry and kicked out foreign companies, might still be celebrated as a civic holiday, but there is "growing recognition change is needed," he said.

Tillerson made his comments in response to a question about Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at a luncheon at the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.

Separately, Tillerson voiced support for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, calling the Obama administration's handling of the issue "an object lesson in what can go wrong." TransCanada, the pipeline's developer, has followed all the regulatory steps, Tillerson said, but still can't get an OK from the U.S. State Department, which has jurisdiction because the pipeline crosses an international border.

"The decision to delay construction was simply a matter of putting politics over sound public policy," he said. Thursday, a public hearing in Nebraska drew more than 400 people, who heard a new proposal for a route. Critics seemed to outnumber supporters, Bloomberg News reported.

Tillerson said recent moves by Peña Neito indicate a different domestic energy policy is needed. Peña Nieto successfully campaigned on the issue last year, but any change in the status of Pemex requires legislative approval.

It's not likely to quickly settled, said Jacobo Kupersztoch, a retired medical professor in Dallas involved in Mexican politics and social issues.

"It is extremely touchy," he said. "Pemex is a national pride," and dismantling it would be like America scrapping free enterprise and adopting a planned economy, he said.

"It's that dramatic," Kupersztoch said.

Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552

Twitter: @jimfuquay

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