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Back in the spotlight: The sector regulator opens a second investigation into the Ixachi field

The National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) is conducting a second investigation of Pemex for irregularities in the Ixachi field.

The regulator of the oil market – of more than 40 million pesos – for excessive burning of gas in the field located in Veracruz. The company had decided to prioritize the extraction of condensates and omitted the construction of the necessary infrastructure to take advantage of the gas that abounds in Ixachi. Now, within the agency, a second investigation is being considered around the field , one of the main assets of the state company, according to sources within the Commission.

The new investigation would have been initiated after a couple of visits by CNH personnel to the field and after they realized that the state oil company carried out crude production activities that had not been previously authorized. The regulator has the power to sanction companies that carry out activities that are outside the plans presented.

“The plan expired and they continued to operate without having a plan,” said one of the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity. The CNH communication office was consulted but did not offer comment.

The investigation is not yet public and is being carried out internally. The formal start of the investigation was pending with the head of the agency. The procedure, the sources said, was not presented before the plenary session of the Commission to be voted on and thus initiate the investigation in a formal and public manner.

The sources said they were not certain when the formal start of the investigation could be voted on, since the plenary session of the Commission has been left with only three of seven members and that prevents it from being put to a vote.

Last May, during a plenary session of the CNH, the first indications of the investigation were disclosed to Pemex. Officials from the regulator said they had found deviations from the development plan presented by the state company. At that time, they pointed out that the oil company was producing hydrocarbons from a well that was not included in the work plan that had been previously approved.

The regulator has maintained greater secrecy regarding the investigations and sanctions imposed on Pemex and other private oil companies since the beginning of the six-year term.

a key field

Ixachi is one of the most important fields of the state. It was discovered during the previous administration, but in this administration it was relaunched as one of the pillars of the strategy to increase Pemex’s crude production.

Ixachi is also the third asset to which the company invested the most – only behind Ku-Maloob-Zaap and Yaxche – during the past year, according to the financial statements of the state company. And, for now, it is one of the company’s main producing fields.

But so far the goals proposed for Ixachi have not been met and have forced the federal government to steadily lower its targets around Pemex.

A few months ago the field grabbed the spotlight after satellite data showed excessive gas burning in the Ixachi field. Amid criticism and pressure from investors to reduce the emission of polluting gases, the state company has announced the construction of infrastructure to take advantage of non-associated gas from the field and reduce its methane emissions by 98% without setting a period for compliance.

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