The Mexican government has launched a new bidding round for the exploration and production of 15 oil blocks in shallow waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico, in an effort to ensure energy security.

Mexico's oil regulator, National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH), approved the contracts and auction terms for the bidding round, the first phase of the Round 2 tender, as it seeks more private investment in the sector in a bid to exploit oil reserves and boost production.  

The oil blocks to be auctioned include six block off the coast of Veracruz, one block off the coast of Campeche and eight blocks off the coast of Tabasco.

The blocks, which have sizes ranging from 972km2 to 466km2, are estimated to hold nearly 650 million barrels of crude oil equivalent in proven reserves.

CNH president Juan Carlos Zepeda was reported by Reuters as saying that the auction calls for potential companies to invest about $11.25bn in the blocks from the contracts.

In total, the tender comprises five exploration and production blocks and 10 exploration blocks including existing and undiscovered reserves of light oil, heavy oil and gas, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The tender involves production sharing contracts for 30 years while the selected bidders are planned to be announced on March 2017.

Mexico expected to launch another bidding round for 10 deepwater exploration blocks in December 2016. The blocks include six in the Salina basin of the Gulf of Mexico and four in the Mexican side of the Perdido belt.

Image: Mexico intends to boost hydrocarbons production to ensure energy security. Photo: courtesy of num_skyman/