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    Mexico's Senate committees approve key parts of energy bill

    Mexico’s Senate committees have approved a set of laws to regulate the opening of Mexico's oil and gas industries to private investment, Reuters says.

    The committees passed four bills fleshing out a historic overhaul of the state-run energy sector, including the power market. The bills will pass to the floor of the Senate on July 17 and then to the lower house of Congress for approval.

    Senators raised requirements for the amounts of local labor and materials investors will need to use in energy projects. The approved bill called for local content of 25% by 2015 that would rise to 35% by 2025. The original draft set the local content bar at 25% by 2025. The changes keep the content requirements below regional rival Brazil, which has rates as high as 55%.

    Senators also amended a section of the draft law that allowed for the expropriation of land containing oil or gas reserves. In its place, they put provisions that would allow companies to lease land and give owners a share of profits. Among the bills approved by the committees was a hydrocarbons law, which sets out key elements of the energy reform, including contracts, fines, and the ownership of Mexican oil and gas.

    Another section establishes the framework for private companies to sell electricity on the open market. Private companies can currently generate their own power, but they can only sell excess energy to the state electricity company. The Reuters report notes that opposition leftist lawmakers abandoned the committee meetings, saying the bills would give away the country's oil wealth to foreign companies.

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