It’s called “Eco-bici”, as in “economical bicycle.” It’s a cheap way to get from point A to B but nope, you can’t find it in Los Angeles, at least not yet. Some 2,000 miles to the south, in a city similar in square miles, but three times the population of LA, the eco-bici is thriving in Mexico City. Stations located throughout the city, especially in the financial and business districts of Mexico are growing in popularity especially when compared against other forms of transportation. A subway ride costs 5 pesos (38 cents) but riders say the bike is still a bargain and it’s better for the environment. While the program is still growing in Mexico, some citizens say Los Angeles could learn from Mexico’s program.LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is traveling in Mexico this week, says the program could work in Los Angeles.
Mexico’s energy reform initiative will spark competition with Canada in terms of supplying the United States with oil and natural gas, further fueling the major oil producer’s efforts to diversify export markets, Canada’s minister of natural resources said on Tuesday. ”There’s no question that Mexico has embarked on a bold move,” Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, told reporters at the annual IHS CERAweek energy conference in Houston.
“They will emerge as another player. We’re focusing on diversifying our market, so that’s perhaps yet another reason to do that. Well, in fact it is,” he said. Last December Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto signed into law a sweeping energy reform that ends the 75-year monopoly state-owned oil company Pemex held on oil and gas production. Nieto is making the case that Mexico is open for business, underscored by energy reform, the hallmark of his 14-month-old government.
Mexico has stepped up its effort to crack down on one of the most powerful and feared criminal organizations in the country, with arrests and seizures this week aimed not at drug trafficking or extortion but at the gang’s lucrative infiltration of mining and smuggling iron ore to China.
The gang, the Knights Templar, has become a violent menace in western Mexico, giving rise to vigilante groups that formed to stop its reign of extortion, kidnapping and murder. That, in turn, forced the government to send the federal police and the military to try to take back a region it conceded had fallen out of state control. Aside from extortion, one of the gang’s chief sources of income has been its infiltration of the mining industry in Michoacán State and, until the arrival of the Mexican Navy in November, near total control of the Pacific port of Lázaro Cárdenas, the country’s second largest.
The chief executive officer of Mexico’s state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos invited the world to explore for shale deposits in its recently opened energy sector. “Mexico holds about the sixth largest shale gas reserves in the world,” Emilio Lozoya said in a speech yesterday at the CERA energy conference in Houston. “You’re more than welcome to come and join the exploration opportunity,” he told a crowd of representatives from the world’s largest energy companies, such as Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp.
The crude production monopoly held since 1938 by Pemex, as the state-run company is known, ended on Dec. 20. Pemex aims to attract as much as $1 trillion in energy investment during the next decade to exploit the biggest proven oil reserves in Latin America after Venezuela and Brazil, he said.
Mexico’s government realizes it’s crucial to establish competitive contract terms and effective, transparent regulations to attract international investors as Mexico implements its pending energy reforms, panelists told a Houston gathering on Feb. 7. Lourdes Melgar, the new undersecretary of hydrocarbons for the Mexican Ministry of Energy, spoke to a seminar hosted by the University of Texas at Austin and the Atlantic Council in Houston on the day after she was named to her current post. Previously, she was undersecretary of electricity.
Having worked on the Mexican government’s energy reform team, Melgar noted that energy reform has been discussed for years in her country. She has held various positions in Mexico’s Foreign Service, including design work on international oil market strategy. ”It’s important to Mexico’s people to make sure we have financial transparency in every contract and bidding round,” Melgar said. Secondary legislation will outline the basics for the types of oil and gas exploration and production contracts, which will be flexible, she said.
Last week’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada trilateral summit resulted in a communique that among other things called for increased energy cooperation on the continent. In an email interview, Jed Bailey, managing partner of Energy Narrative, a research and consulting group focusing on Latin America’s energy sector, explained the recent history of and next steps for North American energy integration.
Just down the road from the old smokestacks, the biggest solar power plant in Latin America is poised to gradually replace outdated dirty power capacity with clean energy sourced from the sun. The mayor of this sunny state capital, Esthela Ponce, says the Mexican president is expected to pay an inaugural visit to the solar farm soon, ushering in a new era of renewable energy for La Paz and the rest of the country.
Built on the site of an abandoned agricultural operation, the solar farm is linked via a high-voltage transmission line with the local-area power grid at the Olas Altas substation 3 km to the south, to which it began supplying power in September. Aura Solar I is Mexico’s premiere utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) power producer, as well as the first domestic private enterprise of its size to obtain both a development bank loan and an agreement to sell its electricity to the grid.
The Mexican government is shaking up its roster of officials who will oversee the opening of the energy sector, and one of the biggest changes will be the transformation of a tiny agency into a powerful regulator in charge of billions of dollars in oil and gas contracts, according to government officials familiar with the situation.
The shake-up of energy officials comes after Congress passed sweeping changes in energy laws in December that will allow private investors into the oil, gas and electricity sectors after decades of government domination, potentially drawing major international oil companies to what experts consider an underdeveloped market.
In recent weeks, President Enrique Peña Nieto replaced the head of the government electricity utility, Comisión Federal de Electricidad, and that was followed by the resignation of the director of oil production at state monopoly Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, who held the key post for a decade.
The keenly awaited fine print that will flesh out a landmark Mexican energy reform will not require state oil giant Pemex to take minimum stakes in contracts and will set out national sourcing requirements, leading lawmakers said on Wednesday.
Mexico’s Congress in December approved the reform that ends Pemex’s 75-year monopoly on crude production and aims to attract significant new streams of private investment into the country’s lumbering oil, gas and electricity sectors.
“Pemex will participate (in future exploration and production contracts) if it wants to participate,” said Marco Antonio Bernal, who heads the energy committee in the lower chamber of Congress and belongs to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.
Esta semana la Cumbre de Líderes de América del Norte ofrecerá un contraste fascinante entre una relación bilateral muy saludable (México-Estados Unidos), una que es fuerte, pero sometida a tensiones temporales (Canadá-Estados Unidos), y una que es decididamente helada (Canadá-México). Este contraste será especialmente evidente porque el primer ministro Harper y el presidente Peña Nieto habrán terminado una reunión bilateral en la que el tema central será el visado canadiense para ciudadanos mexicanos, tema que además promete complicar el progreso en otros asuntos.
El éxito tiene muchos padres, mientras que el fracaso es huérfano. México es actualmente una historia de éxito con la que el presidente Obama quiere ser asociado, por lo que deberíamos esperar a ver la relación México-Estados Unidos al frente y al centro en Toluca, mientras que Canadá adoptará un perfil más bajo debido a la cuestión de las visas con México y las tensiones del oleoducto Keystone XL con Estados Unidos.
Read our latest publication “Is Geography Destiny? A Primer on North American Relations,” here.