Teaching Tools to Chart Mexico’s Oil Production

For those of you who’d like to stay more up to date on the decline of Mexican oil production, a situation that is quite serious despite lack of Western media attention, today’s post offers up a framework for understanding the monthly oil production figures, and then shows you how to best obtain and understand this data.

All of Mexico’s oil production is conducted by PEMEX. And PEMEX tends to release its monthly production numbers on the last Friday of each month. On September 25th, for example, it was reported that Mexico’s August oil production was 2.54 Mb/day, down -0.86% from July, and down -7.90% from a year earlier. But here we run into the first typical problem with media reporting: as you go through Dow Jones, Reuters, Bloomberg, and other news services such as UpstreamOnline or Platts, there is variability in how headline and detailed production figures are reported. First, to track oil production it’s not helpful to read the reports of all-liquids production. The latter include natural gas liquids. Generally Reuters is pretty good about making this distinction, but on Friday, in their initial reports they failed in this regard. Thus, the most accurate report on Friday’s data release came from Bloomberg. Note: Reuters did eventually clean up their coverage by the time the weekend was over.

Fish Motif Early MexicoIn order to check the early wire reports against actual figures, it’s best to visit the PEMEX website which now helpfully has an English section, where you can read the actual data. Starting at the Petroleum Statistics front page, you can then elect to see the Adobe .pdf under Liquid Hydrocarbons Production, and then you’ll find that PEMEX denotes crude only by the Total Crude column. Thus, you can use this method to check the headline number for the country’s production. However, you cannot use this to get data on the country’s individual oil fields.

Mexico’s monthly production figures are essentially tied to the performance of its two biggest fields,  Cantarell and Ku-Maloob-Zaap. So to understand the overall trend, you need to track their (mis) fortunes, in addition to (any) progress in Mexico’s other large field, Chicontepec. Unhelpfully, the English news services mentioned above sometimes report either all liquids production from both large fields, report average year-to-date production for both fields, or, in the case of Cantarell, will sometimes report both “classical” Cantarell and then “wider-boundary” Cantarell–which includes satellite production. The goal is to obtain crude oil only production data for both fields, and here, we are reliant on the news services because the field reporting by PEMEX, in their monthly press release bulletin on their website, is variable. My advice here is as follows: sift through all the updated and corrected news and wire reports in the five day period after the PEMEX data release, cross-checking to “solve” for crude oil only production from both Cantarell and Ku-Maloob-Zaap.

The crash in Mexico’s oil production was flagged years ago. David Shields has done most of the early, detailed, English language reporting on the situation, and of course The Oil Drum has done myriad large surveys. I keep a Google Documents file just on Cantarell, which I have opened to public sharing here. Readers can also see a record of my own, past posting on Mexico using the Mexico tag on this blog, www.gregor.us. Finally, to explore the non-English parts of the PEMEX (such as the monthly press release bulletin referenced above) website, Google Translate does a very good job at holding the entire site for English navigation.

For those of you who’d like to work with a longer timeline you can pick up the Mexico set going back to the start of the decade using the EIA Washington’s monthly IPM Report in Excel format.


Graphic: Fish Motif, early Mexico.