Mexico to cancel February auctions for oil and gas blocks

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office Dec. 1, replacing Enrique Pena Nieto. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 December 2018

Mexico to cancel February auctions for oil and gas blocks

  • Two bidding rounds would be canceled, including those for 37 onshore blocks and 9 unconventional and conventional areas, including shale resources
  • Lopez Obrador has sharply criticized the landmark energy opening enacted by his predecessor, President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose government planned the February auctions

MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s energy secretary Rocio Nahle said on Saturday that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s newly installed administration would cancel two February bidding rounds for oil and gas blocks, including Mexico’s first shale areas on offer.
Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, has sharply criticized the landmark energy opening enacted by his predecessor, President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose government planned the February auctions.
The new president previously said he would suspend future oil auctions pending a review of the more than 100 contracts already awarded, but has not detailed what would become of the auctions slated for February.
Mexico’s oil industry is struggling to stem a long-running crude output decline, posing one of the biggest challenges for Lopez Obrador’s six-year term. He has yet to disclose a full plan for the sector.
Nahle told reporters at an event in the state of Chiapas on Saturday that two bidding rounds would be canceled. Together they would have auctioned off 46 oil and gas blocks, including the first shale areas in Mexico to be offered to private and foreign oil companies.
The dense rock has been successfully tapped over the past decade in the United States, including the lucrative Eagle Rock formation in Texas just across Mexico’s northern border.
Nahle did not address auctions for partnership rights for seven onshore joint venture contracts with national oil company Pemex, which are also scheduled for February.
Under Mexican law, the independent oil regulator known as the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) runs the auctions and supervises contracts. The commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lopez Obrador’s energy initiatives have so far focused on reducing fuel prices by building a new refinery in his home state of Tabasco, where he is expected to announce details of the project on Sunday.
He has also encouraged private oil producers already awarded contracts in Mexico to deliver barrels quickly. 

World leaders prepare for Davos amid gloomy forecasts

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2019

World leaders prepare for Davos amid gloomy forecasts

  • Delegates to annual forum to include presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan

DUBAI: World leaders are preparing to head to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, amid the riskiest global backdrop in years, according to a report from the event organizer itself.

As the WEF announced the names of some of the 3,000 participants set to attend the meeting and details of the four-day agenda, it also published a gloomy outlook on international politics, economics, the environment and technology. 

Rising geopolitical and geo-economic tensions are the most urgent risks in 2019, with 90 percent of experts surveyed expecting further economic confrontation between major powers, according to the WEF’s annual Global Risks Report.

“The world’s ability to foster collective action in the face of urgent major crises has reached crisis levels, with worsening international relations hindering action across a growing array of serious challenges. Meanwhile, a darkening economic outlook, in part caused by geopolitical tensions, looks set to further reduce the potential for international cooperation in 2019,” it added.

Although political and economic worries were top of the immediate agenda for the 1,000 experts polled by the WEF, the environment and climate change are also a cause for concern, as are “rapidly evolving” cyber and technological threats, the WEF said.

Børge Brende, the WEF president, said: “With global trade and economic growth at risk in 2019, there is a more urgent need than ever to renew the architecture of international cooperation. We simply do not have the gunpowder to deal with the kind of slowdown that current dynamics might lead us toward. What we need now is coordinated, concerted action to sustain growth and to tackle the grave threats facing our world today.”

The leaders who will begin to arrive in Switzerland in the next week include Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan; Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; and Wang Qishan, vice president of China.

With US President Donald Trump pulling out of the meeting to deal with the partial government shutdown, the American delegation is expected to be led by Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state.

The Middle East is well represented at the meeting, with at least nine heads of state or government from the region, including Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia will be represented by a team of senior policymakers and business leaders.

The risk report will give them all food for thought in the Alpine resort.

Asking whether the world is “sleepwalking into a crisis,” the report responded: “Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening. The world’s move into a new phase of strongly state-centered politics continued throughout 2018.

“The idea of ‘taking back control’ — whether domestically from political rivals or externally from multilateral or supranational organizations — resonates across many countries and many issues.”

Macro-economic risks have moved into sharper focus, it said. 

“Financial market volatility increased and the headwinds facing the global economy intensified. The rate of global growth appears to have peaked,” the report said, pointing to a slowdown in growth forecasts for China as well as high levels of global debt — at 225 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), significantly higher than before the financial crisis 10 years ago.

Raising the prospect of a “climate catastrophe,” the report said extreme weather, which many experts attribute to rapid climate change, was a risk of great concern. “The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear,’ the WEF said.

Of the 3,000 participants at Davos, which runs from Jan. 22 to 25, around 78 percent are men, with an average age of 54. 

The oldest will be the 92-year-old British broadcaster David Attenborough, the youngest 16-year-old South African wildlife photographer Skye Meaker.