OREANDA-NEWS. March 24, 2017. Italian energy company Eni said today it made an "important" discovery at its first drilling attempt in Mexico.

The company did not give reserve estimates but said it is "already evaluating options for fast track phased development".

Eni had initially expected to complete its preliminary evaluation period at the end of 2017, and only then submit development plans to Mexico's national hydrocarbons commission (CNH).

The CNH was not immediately available to comment on the discovery or the possibility of expedited development.

The discovery in the shallow waters of Campeche Bay found 110m (361ft) of net oil pay from several reservoirs. While some of the formations contain 18°API crude, others hold "high quality light oil".

Eni said it is still working on reserve estimates but it is already talking about a "meaningful upside" to early assessments.

The find is a fillip to the Mexican government's policy of opening the long-cloistered oil industry and dismantling the monopoly of state-owned Pemex, in a bid to reverse a prolonged decline in production.

Pemex produced 2.020mn b/d in January 2017, the latest available data, 10.6pc less than a year ago and far below a 2004 peak of 3.4mn b/d.

Emerging independent crude production in Mexico, coming from a late 2015 tender of onshore blocks, reached 38,011 b/d in December 2016, or 8.7pc less than in the previous month, according to data from the Mexican Petroleum Fund (FMP).

In a September 2015 tender, Eni won a production-sharing contract to develop the Amoca, Mizt?n and Tecoalli fields containing proven and probable reserves (2P) of 121.6mn bl of oil equivalent (boe), according to CNH data.