Pemex Talks With Talos Over Zama Oil Field May Miss Deadline

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Talks between Petroleos Mexicanos and a group of foreign companies over how to develop the giant Zama oil field may miss a deadline as both sides continue to negotiate the technical details of a potential agreement.

The talks are expected to continue beyond Thursday’s deadline for an accord and could last for weeks, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private.

At stake is a deal allowing Zama, which was discovered in 2017 by a group of foreign oil producers led by Talos Energy Inc. of the U.S., to be merged with a Pemex field nearby. The companies began unification proceedings after finding both fields share the same reservoir and signed a preliminary agreement to share information in 2018.

Despite years of talks, both sides have yet to agree on who should have a majority stake in the combined field and who would operate it. The current round of discussions has still to establish how profits should be split and who will operate the shared reservoir, the person said. Representatives for Pemex and Talos didn’t immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

The outcome of the latest round of negotiations is being closely watched by the global oil industry after a series of measures by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to dial back the liberalizing energy reforms of his predecessor. After sweeping into power in late 2018, Lopez Obrador canceled oil and gas auctions, and he’s now threatening to change the constitution following legal battles with the private electricity industry.

If both sides in the Zama talks fail to get a deal by Thursday’s deadline, the energy ministry will be charged with finalizing an agreement, though Pemex and the consortium will still have to sign off on it, the person said. A previous deadline to finalize the deal was extended in December.

Talos’s partners in Zama are Wintershall DEA subsidiary Sierra Oil & Gas and Premier Oil Plc.

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