After years of delay, Mexico could open up its vast shale oil fields to U.S. drillers as soon as next year, the Mexican secretary of energy said Friday. Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, speaking to energy executives, attorneys and academics at Rice University, said that the long-suspended auctions for northern Mexico’s shale fields could reopen after the first quarter of 2017. “Everything will be ready by March,” he said. The fields could provide Houston oil companies with nearby and ready-made opportunities for expansion. Much of it is essentially an extension of the Eagle Ford reservoir, which stretches from central Texas and into Mexico. Local companies, familiar with the geology and now experts in hydraulic fracturing, could be first in line to develop the fields. Mexico, in the middle of sweeping energy reform, is holding auctions to sell the rights for private companies to drill in its untapped oil fields. The country has gathered more than $22 billion in private sector commitments so far, on projects ranging from oil drilling to pipelines to power plants.
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