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Federal judge orders provisional suspension of AMLO’s Hydrocarbon Law reform

Mexico City, Mexico — A federal judge has granted a provisional suspension of three reformed articles to the Hydrocarbons Law. Judge Gómez Fierro did so considering that they could be unconstitutional, violating the principles of free competition provided for by the 2013 Energy Reform.

The suspended articles, before the protection promoted by the Grupo Base Energético company, are the 57 and the 4th and 6th transitory of the reform promoted by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The first of these, Article 57, grants authorities the power to temporarily occupy, intervene or suspend any activities permit granted related to hydrocarbons, which would then see it transferred to Pemex for continued operations.

While the transitory articles authorize the revocation of permits that, on the date of the entry into law, did not comply with the hydrocarbon storage requirements ordered by the Ministry of Energy (Sener).

The judge will decide on May 14 whether to grant a definitive suspension, which would freeze the articles indefinitely.

“It is emphasized that the effects of this precautionary measure include not only the complainants, but all permit holders of the hydrocarbon, oil and petrochemical markets,” explained the judge who gave the Sener three days to publish the resolution in the Official Gazette in order to make it known to all interested parties.

“(If it does not give general effects), a privileged treatment would be allowed for the complainants since they would be the only permit holders to whom the revocation assumptions that are provided for in the transitory articles that, apparently, turn out to be not applicable, are not applicable. Unconstitutional,” added the judge.

President López Obrador has publicly criticized the decisions of Judge Gómez Fierro contrary to the reforms promoted by the president in electricity matters and the registry of mobile phone users. Last month, AMLO urged a reform of the Judicial Power and asked the Federal Judicial Council to initiate an investigation to clarify the actions of Judge Gómez Fierro.

However, on May 1, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Federal Judicial Council, Arturo Zaldívar concluded that “nothing irregular” was found with the Second District Judge Gómez Fierro, who specializes in Economic Competition, Broadcasting and Telecommunications.

The reform of the law makes it difficult to enter into a market that is still dominated by state-owned Pemex.

In March, AMLO filed a complaint after Federal Judge Rodrigo de la Peza López Figueroa granted two provisional suspensions to his electricity reforms. The judge granted the provisions considering that they could damage free competition.