October 3, 2019 / 2:07 PM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 2-Mexican president says government not seeking to control Zama oilfield

(Adds local media report citing U.S. State Department official)

MEXICO CITY, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday that his government is not seeking to take control of the Zama oilfield discovery, which is currently operated by a private consortium led by U.S.-based Talos Energy.

Reuters reported earlier this week that Mexico's national oil company, Pemex, wants to take control of Zama from Talos, which made the discovery on the edge of its block, adjacent to an area belonging to Pemex and where the find likely extends.

"It's a deposit that is shared with Pemex and there's no problem," Lopez Obrador told reporters at his regular morning news conference without going into further detail.

An official with the U.S. Department of State also weighed in on Zama, describing the possibility that Pemex could take operational control of the project as a "disturbing development," according to a report by Mexican newspaper Reforma on Thursday.

The newspaper quoted Kurt Donnelly, the department's deputy assistant secretary for energy diplomacy, as saying that the U.S. government would seek to defend American investments in Mexico and that this type of concern has been communicated to Mexican officials.

"Mexico seemingly was in the right path. This might indicate that they are deviating in a way," Donnelly told Reforma.

Lopez Obrador was asked for his reaction to the U.S. official's comments but appeared not to be aware of them.

Zama, offshore in the southern Gulf of Mexico, was discovered in 2017 and is believed to contain nearly one billion barrels of oil, making it the largest non-Pemex discovery in Mexico in decades.

Pemex has yet to drill on its neighboring block to confirm the extension of the discovery.

The Talos-led consortium also includes Germany's Wintershall DEA and Britain's Premier Oil. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia Editing by Bernadette Baum and Steve Orlofsky)

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