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Pemex is tied to the past, not the future

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol has launched a new business strategy that its Mexican counterpart, Pemex, might want to follow.

Francisco Bayón, the new Ecopetrol CEO, is an engineer with 25 years of experience in the oil industry in Colombia and abroad, including Vice-president for Latin America of BP.

The CEOs of major oil companies usually spend a decade or more in the job.

By contrast, Pemex has only once in its 79-year history had a chief who previously worked in the oil industry.

The others have all been bureaucrats, appointed by the current president, who on average spend fewer than three years in the post, including one whose term dramatically demonstrated the unprofessional way in which Pemex is generally run.

When then-President Ernesto Zedillo needed to reshuffle his cabinet following the eruption of the so-called “Tequila financial crisis” In 1994, he gave the job of Transport secretary to Carlos Ruiz Sacristán, just two weeks after naming him the head of Pemex,

This is not to criticize the current Pemex chief, Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya, a young man with a reputation for honesty and modesty - his leisure habits include cycling and a glass or two of craft beer – with extensive financial experience, gained in his previous job as head of the Mexican Social Security Institute.

On the other hand, Gonzalez is an amateur when comes to running Pemex, which faces chronic declines in production of oil and natural gas.
Meanwhile, gasoline imports swamp the Mexican market because Pemex is unable to refine enough of the crude it produces.

Led by markets, not red tape, Ecopetrol, India’s ONGC, Malasia’s Petronas and Norway’s Statoil are state-owned companies, which seek oil and gas opportunities all over the world over.

Despite the recent success of Mexico’s energy reform, however, Pemex remains  less of a company than a government agency, unable or afraid to go beyond national borders while