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Mexico: Going oil-crazy

April 2, 2008 |  2:06 pm

For a couple of weeks now, Mexico and the fate of its state-owned oil company Pemex have been front-page news here. One day, the newspapers remind Mexicans that their country's oil (which funds much of the country's public works and services budget) is running out. Then they announce there's a new "treasure" of untapped oil -- but it's deep in the ocean, and too expensive for Mexico to extract without foreign investment. Today, they announce there's another "treasure" that isn't so deep.

It's all being driven by President Felipe Calderon's suggestion that Mexico should consider allowing foreigners to help them drill for oil, 70 years after Mexico nationalized its oil fields. Even the Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, got into the act last week, saying that Brazil's national oil company, Petrobras, was willing to help the Mexicans search in deep waters. And the EPR urban guerrillas, who last year blew up Pemex pipelines in support of their leftist cause, have weighed in. "Pemex should belong to the Mexican people!" the guerrillas declared in a communique. Prospects for any meaningful reform of Mexico's oil laws, which make it illegal for foreigners to profit from the country's reserves, remain dim.

--Héctor Tobar in Mexico City