Mexico's oil production is expected to average about 2.5 million barrels per day in 2010, down almost 4 percent from levels in the first half of 2009, the country's energy secretary said Wednesday.
The projection is down 5.7 percent from previous estimates, said Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel.
The lower output is due to declining production at the aging Cantarell field, once Mexico's largest. The state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, needs "support" from the private sector to increase capacity, Kessel said.
Petroleos Mexicanos produced an average of 2.6 billion barrels of crude a day in the first half of 2009, and 2.79 million barrels in 2008. Officials had previously pegged 2010 production at about 2.65 million barrels a day.
Lower production and increasing domestic demand is leaving shrinking amounts of oil available for export.
Exports plunged 14.8 percent to 1.2 billion barrels a day during the first half of 2009, compared with 1.4 billion in the year-earlier period.
"I know that we are going through a difficult economic time," President Felipe Calderon said Wednesday in a televised address.
Calderon has supported legal reforms to further open Pemex to private investment and partnerships, a divisive political issue in a country that once kicked out private oil companies and nationalized its most treasured resource.
Oil is Mexico's leading source of foreign income and finances about 40 percent of the national budget.
Calderon also touted the government's investments in roads and infrastructure in the address and said he is confident the country will pull through the current economic downturn.