Philosophy of language in Mexico’s oil legislation

A dimension of Mexico’s Petroleum Narrative is the political control of the language in which the oil industry is described, regulated and administered. In the US-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement of 2012, Mexican legislators coined a word to refer to oil companies: licenciatario, which meant, simply, “any person or entity that possessed a License.” This term conveyed a new, dignified status in the Mexico’s petroleum regime; but the term that is used in the legislation of 2014, contratista, does not convey any such connotation. To refer to an oil company as a “contractor” is redolent of the old system governed by the Public Works Law of 2000 and the Pemex Law of 2008. You are a contractor if you sell, or offer to sell, something to Pemex (or any other public agency). The choices of “contractor” and “contract” (to refer to a block with oil prospectivity) are, for lack of a better word, infelicitous.

Written by

George Baker

Baker & Associates offers niche-market business and policy intelligence related to Mexico's oil and gas, power and chemical industries. Over 1,000 reports have been issued in the last 20 years. Subject matter expert and publisher George Baker, who directs the firm, has carried out consulting assignments starting in the late 1970s at the height of the Oil Boom in Mexico. He brings bilingual and bicultural skill-sets to understanding and responding to challenges of business and public policy, coupled with a deep familiarity with the history and idiosyncrasies of the Mexican operating environment.

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