Mexico president says government will help Pemex until 2021

Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday his government will support the state-owned oil company with all the budget it needs and tax relief until 2021.

By then, Petroleos Mexicanos will have recovered its footing, increased production and be able to finance the country's development during the remainder of his term, López Obrador said.

Years of neglect during which governments funded themselves on Pemex's profits rather than reinvesting in the company left it heavily indebted and facing declining production.

López Obrador has made returning Pemex to its former stature a priority. He has sent the military after the organized crime rings that tap its pipelines and steal its fuel and promised to build a massive new refinery in spite of experts questioning the financial logic.

Later Wednesday, the country's federal comptroller announced sanctions against two former high-ranking Pemex officials accused of financial wrongdoing.

Without identifying them, the comptroller's office said in a statement that one would be banned from holding public office for 15 years and the other for 10 years.

One was also sanctioned for more than $32 million (620 million pesos) for alleging overpaying by that amount for an industrial plant.