Mexico oil-lease sale nets only 2 bids

20-Jul-2015 Mexico's move to open the country's energy industry to private and foreign investment for the first time in decades started slowly this week. The government received only two successful bids for oil leases and failed to draw the interest of major international oil producers.

But future bidding rounds for deep-water blocks in the Gulf of Mexico will draw more interest from major oil players, and could pit El Dorado's Murphy Oil Corp. against the likes of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. in jockeying for those drilling contracts, analysts said.

"As it happens, this week will provide the first substantive indication of which international oil and gas companies want to be the first movers into Mexico," said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst with Raymond James and Associates, in an email.

The first round of the auction involved 14 shallow-water exploration blocks in Mexico's portion of the Gulf of Mexico. These prospects do not hold enough oil to attract large international producers, analysts said.

"These are clearly not the most 'sexy' opportunities; the more attention-grabbing onshore shale acreage and deepwater blocks will be included in future phases," Molcahanov said, adding that Murphy Oil did not participate in this week's auction. (By Jessica Seaman, Arkansa online)