UPDATE 1-Pemex suffers rejection for half of Chicontepec tenders
POZA RICA, Mexico, July 11 (Reuters) - Mexican state oil monopoly Pemex got a dismal response to an auction of contracts at one of its main oil fields on Thursday as the company seeks to find more investment to help boost flagging crude output.
Most bidders in the Chicontepec basin auction signalled they wanted a higher fee per barrel than Pemex was willing to give for the private contracting scheme to turn around part of the big field, which has consistently fallen short of expectations.
The poor response is likely to increase pressure on the government to open up the industry to more private investment when it unveils its planned reform of Pemex in coming weeks.
Pemex only successfully contracted half of the six blocks put out to tender. The two biggest blocks both failed to attract bidders, the company said.
U.S. oil services giant Halliburton won the contract to operate the Humapa block, which contains 341 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in proven, probable and possible (3P) reserves spread across 49 square miles (128 sq km).
And Mexico's Grupo Diavaz got the nod for the Miquetla block, which contains 248 million boe in proven, probable and possible reserves spread across 43 square miles.
The Chicontepec auction marks the third round of the country's fee-per-barrel private contracting scheme, fruit of a 2008 reform aimed at revitalizing aging oil fields and attracting long-term private investment.
The six blocks constitute about 15 percent of the basin's total reserves, or about 3.2 billion barrels of crude equivalent, and cover 368 square miles.
Sixteen companies, nearly all oilfield service companies, pre-qualified for the auction.
The Chicontepec basin, discovered more than 80 years ago, is located in the east-central states of Veracruz and Puebla and is home to about 40 percent of Mexico's certified hydrocarbon reserves, or about 17 billion boe.
Last year, Chicontepec produced an average of 74,800 barrels per day (bpd). Despite heavy investment, Pemex has failed to meet production targets at the geologically complicated basin, where millions of barrels of oil are scattered across many small deposits, a feature that makes production costly and slow.