Mexico’s richest man Carlos Slim to invest $1.2 billion in Lakach deepwater field in Gulf of Mexico

Cyntia Barrera Diaz, Bloomberg July 07, 2024

(Bloomberg) – A company controlled by Mexico’s richest person, Carlos Slim, is investing $1.2 billion to develop a vast field in the Gulf of Mexico that is expected to produce gas around 2026, a potential model for how Mexico’s state oil company will work with private enterprise.

Carlos Slim

Slim’s Grupo Carso SAB agreed to a deal with Mexico’s state-run Petroleos Mexicanos to explore and extract from Lakach, a deepwater field discovered in 2007 about 98 km (61 miles) southeast of the city of Veracruz.

Pemex will own the field and its reserves, while Grupo Carso will build an inland facility to store and process the gas and condensates. Under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose term ends in September, the Mexican government has reasserted state control of the energy industry, but production and exploration have slowed with less private investment.

Slim is succeeding at finding ways to work with Pemex where others have been unable to move forward. Last year, Pemex scrapped a similar agreement to develop Lakach with New Fortress Energy Inc.

In December, Lopez Obrador praised a Carso agreement to acquire stakes in two oil fields, “because it stays in the hands of Mexicans and I’m sure that they’re going to invest to extract crude.”

Lopez Obrador’s successor, President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum, has said she will work with private investors in energy while insisting that Mexico’s natural resources belong to the people.

Carso will team with Houston-based Talos Energy Inc. and a local unit of Spain’s Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas SA to develop Lakach. Slim owns stakes in both companies.

While most of his $93.3 billion fortune comes from his telecommunications company, America Movil SAB, Slim has been investing in energy projects such as the construction of offshore platforms for more than a decade.

Earlier this week, Slim said Mexico needed to invest in energy so it can take advantage of trade tensions between China and the U.S. and pull in more investment. At an event in Mexico to commemorate the Day of the Engineer, he said his companies also have permits to produce geothermal energy, but the government hasn’t allowed production yet.

Carso shares fell 2.8% to 127.86 pesos at the close in Mexico City before the Lakach plan was announced. The stock is down 33% this year after more than doubling in 2023.

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