Mexico’s Senate gave general approval early on Friday to a key bill to regulate the opening of the oil and gas industries to private investment, the centerpiece of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s economic reform agenda. The Senate voted 90-28 to approve the general outline of the hydrocarbons law, which details the rules for private contracts and fines, but lawmakers reserved dozens of articles for further debate before a final vote.
The bill fleshes out a historic overhaul of the state-run energy sector approved late last year and it will pass to the lower house from the senate. Following a decade of falling oil and gas output, Pena Nieto pushed through a reform in December 2013 to end state oil giant Pemex’s 75-year monopoly and allow for production and exploration by private companies.
The reform is the central plank of Pena Nieto’s plan to boost growth in Latin America’s No. 2 economy, which has lagged behind more dynamic emerging markets. Senators are set to vote on three more energy bills, including one that opens up the electricity market to private companies.