Petróleos Mexicanos
State-owned enterprise
Industry Oil and gas
Founded 7 June 1938 (1938-06-07)
Founder Lázaro Cárdenas
Headquarters Mexico City, Mexico
Key people
José Antonio González Anaya (CEO)
Products Fuel, natural gas and other petrochemicals
Revenue DecreaseUS$117.50 billion (2014)
IncreaseUS$390 million (2012)
Total assets IncreaseUS$415.75 billion (2012)[1]
Owner Mexican government
Number of employees
138,215 (2011)

Petróleos Mexicanos, which translates to Mexican Petroleums, but is trademarked and better known as Pemex (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpemeks]), is the Mexican state-owned petroleum company, created in 1938 by nationalization or expropriation of all private, foreign, and domestic oil companies at that time. Pemex has a total asset worth of $415.75 billion, and is the world’s second largest non-publicly listed company by total market value (in 2006),[2] and Latin America’s second largest enterprise by annual revenue as of 2009, surpassed only by Petrobras (the Brazilian National Oil Company).[3] The majority of its shares are not listed publicly and are under control of the Mexican government, with the value of its publicly listed shares totaling $202 billion in 2010, representing approximately one quarter of the company’s total net worth.[2][4][5]


Typical Pemex gas station

Asphalt and pitch had been worked in Mexico since the time of the Aztecs. Small quantities of oil were first refined into kerosene around 1876 near Tampico. By 1917 commercial quantities of oil were being extracted and refined by subsidiaries of the British Pearson and American Doheny companies, and had attracted the attention of the Mexican government who then claimed all mineral rights for the state as part of its Constitution.

In 1938, President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–40) sided with oil workers striking against foreign-owned oil companies for an increase in pay and social services. On March 18, 1938, citing Article 27 of the Constitution of 1917, President Cárdenas embarked on the state-expropriation of all resources and facilities, nationalizing the United States and AngloDutch operating companies, creating Pemex. He is famous in saying in his speech addressing the nation,

I ask the entire Nation to furnish the necessary moral and material support to face the consequences of a decision which we, of our own free will, would neither have sought nor desired.[6]

He framed expropriation as a necessary national response to the injustice of the operations of foreign companies operating on Mexican soil. Expropriation was not outright confiscation, since the Mexican government promised to compensate companies. However, in retaliation, many foreign governments closed their markets to Mexican oil. In spite of the boycott, Pemex developed into one of the largest oil companies in the world and helped Mexico become the fifth-largest oil exporter in the world.

In an interview on the oil news website in November 2005, a Pemex employee spoke anonymously of the company’s inability to grow production, stating that the company and country is at Hubbert’s Peak. The person interviewed believed export levels could not be recovered once peak had passed, as the size of current fields that have been discovered or are coming online represent a fraction of the size of the oilfields going into terminal decline. Annual production has dropped each year since 2004.[7] Furthermore, it has been reported the 2005-2006 daily oil production was down by approximately 500,000 barrels per day (79,000 m3/d) (a large proportion of the country’s 4,500,000 barrels) on the previous year. Pemex averaged 3.71 MMBPD in 2006.[7] Pemex has never produced 4 MMBPD or higher for a yearly average.[8] Pemex has been replaced as Latin America’s largest company by Petrobras, according to the latest Latin Business Chronicle ranking of Latin America’s Top 500 companies. To help capitalize the company, former President Vicente Fox brought forward the possibility of making shares of Pemex available to Mexican citizens and pension funds, to complement a current project-specific investment setup known as "Proyectos de Inversión Diferida En El Registro del Gasto" (Deferred Investment Projects in the Expenditure Registry);[9] this proposal, along with alleviating Pemex’ heavy tax burden and a substantial budget increase, have met opposition in Congress.[10][11] President Calderón made clear at the beginning of his presidency that he would try his best to open up the sector to private investment. Pemex is Latin America’s second largest company measured by revenues, according to a ranking of the region’s 500 largest companies by Latin Business Chronicle, behind Brazilian oil company Petrobras. In June 2009, Pemex has asked for an extra $1.5 billion state aid to finance oil fields investments, reported Bloomberg.

President Felipe Calderón called for change in Mexico’s oil industry after output at Pemex fell at the fastest rate since 1942. His comments came after Petrobras and London-based BP said they made a "giant" oil find of as much as 3 billion barrels (480×10^6 m3) in the Gulf of Mexico southeast of Houston. According to Mexican Energy Minister Georgina Kessel, Mexico may seek to emulate Brazilian Oil rules that strengthened Petroleo Brasileiro SA as it considers regulation changes to revive the oil industry.[12]

In January 2014 Pemex signed a cooperation agreement with the Russian oil company Lukoil focusing on oil production and field exploration as well as exchange of knowledge in the aforementioned areas, including actions for ecological preservation and environmental protection.[13]

In February 2016, Emilio Lozoya Austin stepped down as CEO of Pemex, replaced by Dr. José Antonio González Anaya..[14]


It is said that Pemex lacks the equipment, technology, and financial means to explore for new reserves in deep water or shale gas; hence, a reform to Mexican law has been put forward by the government.[15][16][17]

In addition to a failing infrastructure, dwindling reserves have created urgency in completing some type of reform. Only 20% of Mexico has been extensively explored for further reserves, and it has been argued that Pemex will need the help of some form of foreign investment to successfully explore new reserves, including in the Gulf of Mexico.[18]

In February 2015, the board approved a $4.16 billion spending cut, pulling the company’s budget down 11.5 percent from the 2015 budget approved by Mexico’s congress. The company also said it will delay deepwater exploration plans and cut jobs in response to weak oil prices.[19]

Incidents and controversies


In 1979, Pemex’s Ixtoc I exploratory oil well in the Bay of Campeche suffered a blowout resulting in one of the largest oil spills in history.[20] Pemex spent $100 million to clean up the spill and avoided most compensation claims by asserting sovereign immunity as a state-run company.[21]

On 19 September 2012 an explosion at the Pemex gas plant in Reynosa, Tamaulipas killed 30 and injured 46 people. Pemex Director Juan Jose Suarez said that there was "no evidence that it was a deliberate incident, or some kind of attack".[22][23][24]

On January 31, 2013, an explosion occurred at the administrative offices of Pemex in Mexico City. At least 37 people were killed and at least 126 were injured. The cause has not been confirmed. Local media reported that machinery exploded in the basement of an administrative center next door to the 52-story Pemex tower.[25]

On April 1, 2015, a fire occurred on platform Abkatun A in southern Gulf of Mexico which killed 4 workers.[26][27]

On April 20, 2016, a large explosion and fire at the company's Chlorinate 3 plant in Coatzacoalcos killed at least 28 people.[28]

On September 24, 2016, a fire broke out on the oil tanker "Burgos", off the coast of Boca del Río, Veracruz, forcing all the crew (31 members) to be evacuated safe. The tanker was carrying 80,000 barrels of diesel and 70,000 barrels of gasoline.[29]


In 2009, the U.S. Justice Department reported that some U.S. refineries had bought millions of dollars worth of oil stolen from Mexican government pipelines. Criminals, especially drug gangs, tap remote pipelines and sometimes build their own pipelines to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil each year. One oil executive has been charged and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. The U.S. Homeland Security Department will return $2.4 million to Mexico’s tax administration - the first money seized during a binational investigation into smuggled oil that authorities expect to lead to more arrests and seizures. The President of Houston-based Trammo Petroleum is set to be sentenced in December after pleading guilty in May.[30][31]

There have been various allegations of corruption within Pemex for over a decade. These range from political contributions to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (over $200 million), "no show" jobs (individuals receive a salary while performing no duties whatsoever), various forms of fraud, embezzlement, and even under the table fuel sales. It has been estimated these various forms of corruption contribute to the loss of over $1 billion a year.[32]

Pemex has a long history of violation of human and labour rights regarding engineers, unrightfully considered to be "trusted workers" who have tried to unionize since 1995 and succeeded, after several repression episodes, in doing so in 2008 and 2009, although at a high human cost[33] This included the death of a person who was refused medical service at one of Pemex’ hospitals because his son had just been sacked for belonging to this union, the Unión Nacional de Técnicos y Profesionistas (shorthand UNTyPP).[34] It also included forcing union members to resign from the Union from their hospital beds, as happened to three cancer patients in 2009. Up to date, and in spite of pressure by the Mexican Congress, the International Labour Organization, the Global Compact, the Industrial Global Union and thousands of citizens all over the world, workers sacked in 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 haven’t been all reinstated nor has there been any reparation otherwise.[35][36] Pemex has never acknowledged to these violations of human rights.

Financial status

Pemex’ offices in Mexico City.

Taxes on Pemex revenue provide about a third of all the tax revenues collected by the Mexican government.[37] Pemex has a debt of $42.5 billion, including $24 billion in off-balance-sheet debt. The state-owned company pays out over 60% of its revenue in royalties and taxes.[38] Mexico exports crude oil, but imports more expensive gasoline.[39]

National Hydrocarbons Commission, created in 2008 by the Mexican Congress to increase regulatory oversight, has increased scrutiny over Pemex in 2012.[40]

See also


  1. Daynes, Will. "Petroleos Mexicanos- PEMEX." March 19, 2014. Accessed October 18, 2014.
  2. 1 2 "FT Non-Public 150 - the full list". Financial Times. 14 December 2006.
  3. "AméricaEconomía - Ránking las 500 mayores empresas de América latina". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  4. "Fortune Global 500 2010: 64. Pemex". Fortune Magazine. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  5. "Eig_Article". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  6. Government of, Mexico. "Expropriation." In Mexico’s Oil : A Compilation of Official Documents in the Conflict of Economic Order in the Petroleum Industry, with an Introduction Summarizing Its Causes and Consequences. Vol. 3. Mexico City: Government of Mexico, 1940. 877
  7. 1 2
  8. | Frequently Asked Questions
  9. "Pemex May Be Turning From Gusher To Black Hole". Business Week. December 13, 2004.
  10. "World Business Briefing - Americas: Mexico: Pemex to Increase Spending". New York Times. March 2, 2006.
  11. "Mexico May Emulate Petrobras as It Plans New Oil Laws (Update3)". Bloomberg. September 4, 2009.
  12. Press bulletin from Pemex
  13. "José Antonio González Anaya toma posesión como director general de Pemex". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  14. "Pemex reforms could open doors to Mexican oil fields". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  15. LaGesse, David (October 2, 2013). "Mexico's Bid for Energy Reform Stirs Passion on Oil Patrimony". National Geographic. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  16. "Helping Pemex help Mexico". Los Angeles Times. August 22, 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  17. Webb, Braden. "Demerts of PEMEX Privatization". Washington: The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 28. 13. (2008), 2.
  18. "Pemex shelves deepwater exploration plan, cuts $4 billion in spending". Petro Global News. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  19. Elena Egawhary (7 May 2010). "How big is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?". BBC News. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  20. "BP's Gulf battle echoes monster '79 Mexico oil spill". Reuters. 2010-05-24. Retrieved 2010-05-24.
  21. "Mexican Tamaulipas state gas plant blast kills 26". BBC. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  22. "Mexico probes Pemex gas plant explosion which killed 26". BBC. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  23. "Blast at Pemex gas plant in Mexico claims more lives". BBC News. 20 September 2012.
  24. "Government: Death toll in Mexico oil company office explosion climbs to 25 with 101 injured". San Francisco Chronicle.
  25. "Continúan las labores de atención al incendio en la plataforma Abkatun A". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  26. "Flames engulf Mexico oil platform in Gulf, killing 4 workers". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  27. "Pemex raises death toll at petrochemical plant explosion to 28". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-04-23.
  28. "Fire breaks out on Pemex tanker in Gulf of Mexico, crew safe". Reuters. 25 September 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  29. "EU devuelve 2.4 mdd por fraude contra Pemex". El Universal. August 11, 2009.
  30. "Refineries bought stolen oil: U.S.". Chicago Sun Times. August 11, 2009.
  31. Bisgaiser, Jennifer. "Pemex Needs More Than Privatization". Washington Report on the Hemisphere 33, 1 (July 8, 2013).
  32. Mexican Labor News & Analysis October , 2010, Vol. 15, No. 9,
  33. Interim Report - Report No 359, March 2011. Case No 2694 (Mexico) - Complaint date: 05-FEB-09 - Follow-up,
  34. Mexican Labor News & Analysis June , 2011, Vol. 16, No. 6. Untypp Blog - Accusations of Violation of Labour Rights,
  35. Mexican Labor Year in Review: 2011 Tuesday 24 January 2012, by Dan La Botz,
  36. David Alire Garcia, "Mexico to keep pumping Pemex for tax money despite promised reforms", Reuters, 30 Oct. 2013.
  37. "Ingresos petroleros, el mejor aliado de Fox". El Universal. September 1, 2006.
  38. Case, Brendan M. (2003-09-23). "Petrochemical imports draw criticism in Mexico, Pemex urged to add value to its own oil by investing in refineries". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on 2007-10-16. Retrieved 2008-11-28.
  39. In a Change, Mexico Reins In Its Oil Monopoly April 23, 2012
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