February 27, 2012 / 12:41 AM / 8 years ago

Mexico at 100 pct oil reserve replacement rate -president

* Pemex finally reaches 1P replacement rate of 100 pct

* Inaugurates new deep water drilling platform

MEXICO CITY, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon said on Sunday that state-oil company Pemex for the first time last year replaced placed 100 percent of its 2011 production with new proven reserves.

The discovery of new fields and revisions to the estimated size of older finds meant Pemex finally reached the goal seen by oil and gas analysts as a minimum measure of the long term sustainability of an energy company.

“We have achieved our aim proposed many years ago,” Calderon said at the inauguration of a new deep water oil drilling platform called the ‘Bicentennial.’ “This means Pemex’s production is now guaranteed to be permanently viable, so we can guarantee the future for all Mexicans,” Calderon said.

Mexico, the world’s No. 7 oil producer, relies on oil revenues to fund around a third of the government budget but risks becoming a net oil importer within the next decade due to a lack of significant discoveries and a heavy reliance on output from fields found decades ago.

The company replaced 77 percent of the oil and gas it extracted in 2009 with new proven reserves, up from a 71.8 replacement rate for 2008. As recently as 2005 the replacement rate was only 22.7 percent.

Mexico recently signed a deal with the United States to exploit oil resources that cross maritime borders in the Gulf of Mexico but it is far behind its northern neighbor in deep water drilling.

Pemex drilled around one deep-water well per year between 2003 and 2006 and 17 wells from 2007 to date, Pemex Chief Executive Juan Jose Suarez said at the event on Sunday.

So far Pemex has mostly found natural gas in deep waters but sees great potential for crude discoveries, Suarez said.

“We have added 790 million barrels of crude oil equivalent to our probable reserves and most importantly, we have identified 61 locations that are ready to be drilled,” he said.

The Bicentennial platform can drill at depths of 32,800 feet (10,000 meters), Calderon said.

The national oil industry regulator, however, has warned that Mexico does not have all the safety regulations in place to make a dramatic leap in dangerous ultra-deep water drilling projects on its own.

Pemex hopes a 2008 oil reform that opened the state-run company up to more private investment will attract companies to oil field operating contracts in deep waters set to be released later this year.

The company is carrying out a multi-year overhaul of its exploration business and stepping up investment in search for new oil and gas fields.

Calderon said investment will reach $2.33 billion this year, up from just $155.54 million in 2000. ($1 = 12.8581 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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