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Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced on Friday a second deepwater find of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico, hailing it as a sign that state oil giant Pemex is on the road to recovery.

The light crude find follows an announcement by Mr. Calderon on Aug. 29 of the country's first deepwater crude discovery.

"We are finding the most significant petroleum system discovered by Pemex in a number of years, maybe even decades," Mr. Calderon said.

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Dubbed Supremus 1, the latest find by state-owned energy company Pemex was at a depth of about 2,900 metres in the Gulf of Mexico and confirmed the potential of what has been called the "Lost Belt" basin.

Mr. Calderon said the estimated proven, probable and possible – or 3P – reserves from the new find in the Supremus 1 well were between 75 million and 125 million barrels of crude.

The first find at the Trion 1 well, 177 kilometres off the coast of Tamaulipas state in northern Mexico, saw 3P reserves of up to 400 million barrels of crude.

The latest discovery is 250 kilometres east of Matamoros, roughly four kilometres below sea level and some 1.1 kilometres beneath the sea bed, Mr. Calderon said. Until this year, Pemex had not struck crude in its 6-year-old deepwater drilling program.

Mr. Calderon said the finds showed that Pemex was in better shape now than when he first took office in late 2006.

Until these discoveries, Pemex had only found commercial quantities of less-profitable natural gas in its territorial waters in the Gulf of Mexico, and not crude.

Pemex believes there are up to 29 billion barrels of crude equivalent in the Gulf, more than half of Mexico's potential resources. The company has said it is interested in contracting private companies to help it tap the deepwater riches.

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According to May data from Pemex Exploration and Production, the company had invested nearly 21 billion pesos ($1.65-billion U.S.) looking for oil or gas from a total of 19 deepwater wells.

Since then, Pemex has drilled more wells in deep waters.

Mexico, the world's No. 7 oil producer, has seen output drop to around 2.5 million barrels per day from a peak of 3.4 million bpd in 2004. If it cannot find and exploit new discoveries to replace declining output at its largest, aging fields, the country risks becoming a net importer of crude within a decade.

President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, who takes office in December, has said he wants to open Pemex up to more private investment to help boost production.

With files from Agence France-Presse

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