Mexico City, Apr 25 (EFE).- Mexican state-owned energy giant Petroleos Mexicanos will begin developing deep-water natural gas reserves in the Holok area of the Gulf of Mexico in 2016, the deputy director of exploration at Pemex's E&P unit said.
"Pemex has discovered seven gas fields in Holok, including Lakach, which will begin production in 2016," Jose Antonio Escalera said at the second edition of Pemex's ExpoForo event.
"More than half of Mexico's crude and gas potential is located in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico," the executive said.
He added that Pemex has thus far explored an area of 130,000 sq. kilometers (50,190 sq. miles) in Mexican territorial waters with 3D seismic studies, having made a total investment outlay of nearly $1.5 billion.
Holok is located off the coast of the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and has reserves estimated at 1.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
Separately, the deputy director of planning at Pemex' refining unit, Guillermo Ruiz, said at the ExpoForo that the company must invest more than 15 billion pesos ($1.1 billion) to modernize its Cadereyta, Madero, Minatitlan and Salina Cruz refineries.
Mexico's oil refining industry needs ongoing short-, medium- and long-term investment due to steadily increasing domestic demand for gasoline and diesel, Ruiz said.
The ExpoForo, which ended Thursday, showcased the opportunities in Mexico's oil and gas industry after last year's historic energy-sector overhaul, which still requires passage of implementing legislation.
The energy overhaul, enacted in December, ended Pemex's 75-year monopoly on oil and gas production, opening the door for private companies to develop untapped offshore and onshore resources.