The son of the president who nationalized Mexico's oil industry said Friday the goal of current head of state Enrique Peña Nieto's energy plan was to strip the state of its role in managing the country's hydrocarbon resources.
"What we're seeing, I'd say, is those companies expropriated in 1938 coming back to manage Mexico's oil," Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, a three-time presidential candidate and founder of the center-left PRD party, told MVS radio.
Peña Nieto presented an energy-overhaul bill Monday that seeks to amend two articles of Mexico's constitution to modernize the sector and make it more attractive to multionational companies.
In the oil sector, the legislation would clear the way for state energy monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos to enter into risk- and profit-sharing partnerships with private companies when such contracts are "in the national interest."
Cardenas said much was being said about planned changes to Article 27 of the constitution, which states that all natural resources in national territory are the property of the nation, even though a proposal to amend the charter's Article 28 would end "the state's exclusivity in strategic areas of the oil industry."
The former Mexico City mayor said private companies would likely secure the most attractive opportunities if the energy plan is approved, while Pemex would be left with "the bad business."
Cardenas said that in Peña Nieto's plan there was a "clear intent to push aside Pemex, the Mexican state, and replace it with private concerns throughout the oil industry's entire (supply) chain."
That goes "against the ideology, the politics, of everything that Lazaro Cardenas (his father and Mexico's president from 1934-1940) did in his life," he said.
The politician lamented the "wave of propaganda" the government has launched to garner support for its initiative and its use of the figure of his father even as it acts "against his ideas, against what he thought with regard to the oil industry" and "the country's development with autonomy."
Pemex, the world's fifth-leading oil producer, has a monopoly on the production of hydrocarbons and refined products in Mexico.
Though production has recently stabilized and the country said last year it had achieved a reserve-replacement ratio of 100 percent, Mexico's output has suffered from the natural decline of the once-super giant Cantarell shallow offshore field and a lack of sufficient investment.
In addition to exploring deep-water areas in the Gulf of Mexico, Pemex also is looking to boost energy production by assessing its non-conventional reserves.
A senior Pemex executive said in an interview published late last month that the company needed $900 billion to develop its deep-water oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, estimated at 27 billion barrels.