UPDATE 1-Mexico's Senate committees approve energy reform bills
(Recasts with more bills approved, adds details of legislation)
By Noe Torres
MEXICO CITY, July 15 (Reuters) - Senate committees approved a set of laws on Tuesday to regulate the opening of Mexico's oil and gas industries to private investment, the centerpiece of President Enrique Pena Nieto's economic agenda.
The committees passed four bills fleshing out a historic overhaul of the state-run energy sector, including the power market. The bills will pass to the floor of the Senate on Thursday and then the lower house of Congress for approval.
Pledging to reverse a decade of falling oil and gas output, Pena Nieto pushed through a reform in December 2013, ending state oil giant Pemex's 75-year oil and gas monopoly, and opening production and exploration to private companies.
The reform is the central plank of Pena Nieto's plan to boost growth in Latin America's No. 2 economy, which has lagged behind more dynamic emerging markets.
Pena Nieto presented a draft of the so-called secondary laws that are needed to implement the energy reform in late April, and lawmakers made several important changes.
Senators raised requirements for the amounts of local labor and materials investors will need to use in energy projects. The approved bill called for local content of 25 percent by 2015 that would rise to 35 percent by 2025.
The original draft set the local content bar at 25 percent by 2025. The changes keep the content requirements below regional rival Brazil, which has rates as high as 55 percent. Continuación...