Mexico names new heads of Pemex, health, social security

AP News
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Posted: Feb 08, 2016 7:11 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A U.S.-educated economist took up the reins of state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos in one of several Cabinet changes announced Monday by President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya was sworn in as head of the oil company better known as Pemex, which has been hit hard by the plunge in global crude prices as Mexico embarks on an ambitious overhaul of its energy sector.

He replaced Emilio Lozoya, who had been at the post since 2012. Lozoya's tenure was marked by an explosion at Pemex headquarters that killed 37 people in January 2013, shortly after he took office, and rising fuel thefts from Pemex pipelines.

The company announced Monday that pipeline thefts fell 34 percent in January from the same month last year, however, attributing the improvement to the enactment of a tougher law and tighter security.

Mexico's 2014 energy reform opened up hydrocarbons to widespread private investment for the first time in the more than seven decades since the sector was nationalized.

But low oil prices have hampered some of Pemex's projects, and the company has said bidding for deep-water offshore exploration would have to be postponed due to unfavorable market conditions.

Gonzalez Anaya, who holds degrees in economics and mechanical engineering from MIT and a doctorate in economics from Harvard, was previously head of Mexico's Social Security Institute. He has also worked as an economist for the World Bank and at senior positions in Mexico's Treasury Department.

He was replaced as social security chief by Mikel Arriola Penalosa, former head of Mexico's Federal Health Commission.

Jose Narro Robles replaced Mercedes Juan as health secretary.