Mexico City – Lawmakers have asked Mexican Energy Secretary Jose Antonio Meade and Pemex chief Juan Jose Suarez Coppel to appear before Congress to explain the government's plans to reform the state-owned oil industry.
The Permanent Legislative Committee approved the move in the wake of President Felipe Calderon's comments in the United States that he planned to present a new reform plan to Congress.
Calderon said in an interview in the United States, where he is on a visit, that he planned to send Congress legislation to modernize Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, like Norway did with Statoil and Brazil did with Petrobras.
"My plan is to try another legal reform in order to modernize Pemex in a way similar to what Petrobras did 10 years ago," Calderon told Bloomberg television.
"It's going to be difficult, but I think we are moving the perception of public opinion of how important it is to modernize the enterprise," the president said.
Calderon's comments bothered lawmakers from the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, who contend that the reforms approved in 2008 render any new overhaul of Pemex unnecessary.
"It makes no sense" for Calderon, a member of the National Action Party, or PAN, to propose new energy reforms since the 2008 process showed that Mexicans oppose Pemex's privatization, the PRI's coordinator in the lower house of Congress, Francisco Rojas Gutierrez, said.
"What the PAN governments have done with Petroleos Mexicanos in 10 years is a disaster," Rojas told reporters after participating in the Permanent Legislative Committee's session on Wednesday.
The officials in charge of the state energy industry should meet with lawmakers for a "point by point review of the Pemex reforms" carried out in 2008, the PRD's coordinator in the Senate, Carlos Navarrete, said.
"I do not believe it's right to pass a new reform if we don't evaluate what has been done," Navarrete said.
The Calderon administration should put its proposal before legislators prior to the start of the next congressional session in September, the senator said.
Congress approved controversial energy reforms in October 2008 intended to expand Pemex's exploration and production capabilities.
The reforms gave Pemex budgetary autonomy, allowed it to issue bonds to obtain capital and provided more flexibility in doing business with foreign companies.
The Calderon administration wanted to give Pemex the ability to reinvest in its business and make it easier for private investors to work with the company in non-strategic areas to improve profitability.
Lawmakers, however, refused to allow private investors to participate in exploration and production projects in Mexico.
Pemex will "probably" issue its first citizens bonds in the second half of this year, Senate Energy Committee secretary Ruben Camarillo said.