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Mexico received the bad news last week that production from the giant Cantarell oil field continues to decline faster than expected. Although the state oil company PEMEX continues to talk optimistically of producing 2.75 million b/d of crude during 2009, production in February was 2.66 million b/d, down 8.6 percent from February 2008.

The EIA and IEA have issued pessimistic forecasts concerning Mexican oil production in 2009. The EIA expects production to fall 10 percent this year. The IEA predicts that production from Cantarell will be around 600,000 b/d this year compared to PEMEX’s target of 756,000 b/d despite an investment of $3.6 billion in a effort to maintain production.

Production from Cantarell has been falling in accordance with the worst-case scenario contained in a confidential PEMEX document leaked to the press 4 years ago. If the slide in production continues at current rates, Mexico will not be exporting much oil in about 4 years. Before the economic slump took hold, oil exports amounted to about 15 percent of Mexico’s foreign exchange earnings.