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While most major energy companies around the globe just reported their highest-ever annual profits from the sale of oil and gas — Britain’s BP registered $28 billion in profits and ExxonMobil reported $56 billion in 2022 — Mexico’s moribund oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) reported its lowest output ever in December, with just 1.576 million barrels per day.

That is the lowest figure since statistical output records of Pemex began being reported in 1984.

Pemex officials at the start of 2022 promised that the company would produce a minimum of 2.6 million barrels daily throughout the year.

Based on these lackluster figures released earlier this month by Pemex itself, national oil production was a whopping 34.2 percent lower than that foreseen in the Pemex Business Plan set out in 2019, when a goal of 2.321 million barrels per day was set for the end of 2022.

Jesús Carrillo, director of economy and sustainability at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), said that the problem with Pemex is that its management has set excessively high goals, with an overestimation of production in priority fields.

However, Carrillo said Pemex’s options for investing with the support of the private sector have been severely restricted by government regulations and reversals of policies, which has, in turn, limited new discoveries.

Arturo Carranza, head of energy advisory services at Akza Consulting, added that a lack of competition, derived from the current energy policies implemented by the administration of leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his so-called Fourth Transformation (4T) government, as well as poor human resource and technological development, have hamstrung Mexico’s ability to increase production.

“If there is no rethinking of the country’s current energy policy,” Carranza said, “the chances that production will continue to fall are even greater.”

Meanwhile, Mexico’s Energy Secretariat adjusted its production expectations for Pemex to 1.571 million barrels per day by the end of 2022.

Last week, Pemex claimed to have exceeded that goal with a production of 1.8 million barrels per day, but that figure included production from private partners.

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