Mexico – After 70 years of state monopoly, the Mexican government will stop fixing fuel prices all over the country on Thursday following the opening of the energy sector to private capital.

The Department of Finance used to set maximum gasoline and diesel prices on a daily basis.

Prices had already been gradually released in the north of the country. From now on, this liberalization will affect the south and centre of the country, which concentrates the majority of the population, particularly the metropolitan area of Mexico City with more than 20 million people.

In 2013, a constitutional reform opened the door of the energy sector to private capital, both Mexican and foreign, ending the monopoly that the state-owned company PetrĂ³leos Mexicanos (Pemex) had held since the nationalization of oil in 1938.

This reform was passed when the country’s largest oil field was exhausted and oil prices on international markets fell from 2014 onwards.

But the reform was accompanied by a 20% increase in fuel prices, which led to demonstrations in early 2017.

“In the regions where this process of flexibilisation has already taken place, where maximum prices have been abolished, we do not see any price surges”, the Under-Secretary of State for Finance Miguel Messmacher said on Wednesday.

He assured that the government would ensure that fuel prices, which are a source of great concern to the public, would not go up.

In Mexico, 78% of the service stations continue to be operated by Pemex but are now present in Mexico with other Mexican companies and international giants such as British British petroleum, Anglo-Dutch Shell and American Gulf.