Experts say that without great foreign investment and technology the country could cease to be a major exporter within six years, even though it sits on promising deep water reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.
“So what will the Pemex explosion mean for the national debate on energy reform? It puts Pemex firmly in the spotlight for a start,” tweeted Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson centre in Washington. “Pemex needs to be modernised from top to bottom, from exploration and production to basic practices . . . will legislators [now] recognise that Pemex has fallen behind the times?”
Under the Mexican constitution, the company is only allowed to offer limited service contracts with private firms. Mr Peña Nieto has promised not to privatise Pemex but wants to expand the private sector’s role. ExxonMobil is among foreign majors who have said they would be interested in participating if his energy reform goes through.