Samples, an expert on Mexican energy law, warned that while the reform already removed constitutional restrictions on foreign investment in the state's historically nationalized energy sector, there are still questions over how the reforms will play out.
"The devil is in the details," Samples said, adding that Mexico will soon introduce secondary legislation to define the exact terms of how foreign investors can compete for opportunities.
Pemex expects to offer projects under the new legislation later this year, but Samples notes that meaningful impacts of the reform "could take at least five or ten years to take shape." Even that horizon will depend on robust international demand for energy and whether or not the secondary legislation meets investor expectations.
On the impact of a liberalized energy sector for Pemex, Samples speculated that "Pemex will likely continue to dominate areas of comparative advantage, such as shallow water exploration and production." In other areas, such as deepwater and unconventional fields, foreign companies could play a key role.