Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico

June 30, 2015
In one conservation effort near Cuatro Cienegas, a  pool named Poza Escobedo, on the property of cattle rancher Alfonzo Gonzalez, was restored to its original state, leading the area around it to regenerate its humidity and lush flora and fauna.

In one conservation effort near Cuatro Cienegas, a pool named Poza Escobedo, on the property of cattle rancher Alfonzo Gonzalez, was restored to its original state, leading the area around it to regenerate its humidity and lush flora and fauna.

Day 5 of our on-going article excerpts. Check out the blog again tomorrow for more, or head straight to our website for the remainder of the article.

Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico

by Keith Schneider

A Desert Oasis That is Drying

There is virtually no surface water available in this part of the Chihuahuan Desert, an expanse of thin pads of grama grass and stands of creosote bushes and mesquite. Coahuila receives little more than 300 millimeters of rain annually (12 inches), according to Conagua. It is the second driest place in Mexico and ranks with Egypt and the Arabian Gulf as among the driest places on Earth.

That is what makes the running streams and desert marshes of Cuatro Ciénegas, a half days’ drive south of Piedras Negras, so rare and such a valuable reference for the ecological disruption and economic dislocation that can occur with mistakes in water supply and use. Until three decades ago the 215-year-old farming community was a farm and business hub set amid a thriving oasis where vineyards and orchards of pomegranate, walnuts, and peaches were irrigated with water drawn from clear, spring-fed streams and pools.

In one conservation effort near Cuatro Ciénegas, a  pool was restored, leading to the recovery of riparian vegetation. Despite management oversight since the mid-1990s by Mexico’s national parks agency and designation as an international biosphere reserve, Cuatro Ciénegas is steadily drying up. Photo © Janet Jarman/Circle of Blue.

Outside town, thick stands of marsh grasses grew as tall as a man. In the 1960s, Mexican and American biologists and ecologists began to swarm across the 150,000 hectares (370,000 acres) of desert pools and wetlands, discovering a biological treasure of plants and animals so abundant and distinctive they likened Cuatro Ciénegas to the Galapagos Islands.

Today, despite management oversight since the mid-1990s by Mexico’s national parks agency and designation as an international biosphere reserve, Cuatro Ciénegas is steadily drying up. Vinos Vitali, a winemaker and lifelong resident, told a University of Texas video team, “There used to be a lot of water here and a lot of fruit. Now there’s no water and nothing is left.”

Alfonso Gonzalez, a rancher in town, added, “You’re seeing a crisis now because the water has not been sustainably managed.”


Texas to pump gas to Mexico

June 29, 2015

06/29/15  The Monitor

natural gas drillA proposed pipeline project to supply Mexico with natural gas from Texas would pass through Brownsville, though the exact route appears yet to be determined.The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), Mexico’s state-owned electric utility, recently issued a request for proposals for construction of a $1.5 billion, 155-mile pipeline from Nueces County to Brownsville, where it would connect with a $3.1 billion, 500-mile underwater pipeline to the Port of Tuxpan in the state of Veracruz, Mexico.The South Texas-Tuxpan pipeline would cross the border into Matamoros before turning toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Read more…


Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico

June 26, 2015

Day 3 of our on-going article excerpts. Check out the blog again on Monday for more, or head straight to our website for the remainder of the article.

Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico

by Keith Schneider

Coahuila Says It’s Ready

Whether the shale gas fields of Coahuila and its neighboring states are included in the offering, though, is not certain. The national government has expressed concern about low gas and oil prices, and about security. Northern Mexico is the base of operations of “Los Zetas,” the most technologically advanced, sophisticated, and dangerous Mexican gang, which has infiltrated the state’s coal sector and terrorized several energy exploration teams.

The Governor of Coahuila, Rubén Moreira Valdéz, among the industry’s biggest boosters, is not intimidated. Moreira is pressing the national government to open bidding for development rights in his state to keep a promising oil industry job boom going. Earlier this year, during a shale development conference in Mexico City, Governor Moreira told attendees that “the economic development of shale oil and gas, and related investments, has generated more than 800 shale gas and shale oil jobs” in Coahuila.

The Duñas de Yeso are unique in Mexico and are often compared to the White Sands national monument in New Mexico. The dunes were formed over thousands of years by sand grains moved by the wind from deposits left on the banks of the Laguna Churince during its periodic ebb and flow. Since surface water on the lake has disappeared completely in the past few years, conservationists fear that this process has now been interrupted, with unpredictable consequences for this natural wonder and its unique bio system.

The Duñas de Yeso are unique in Mexico and are often compared to the White Sands national monument in New Mexico. The dunes were formed over thousands of years by sand grains moved by the wind from deposits left on the banks of the Laguna Churince during its periodic ebb and flow. Since surface water on the lake has disappeared completely in the past few years, conservationists fear that this process has now been interrupted, with unpredictable consequences for this natural wonder and its unique bio system.

 

Executives of Pemex, Mexico’s national oil company, join administrators in Mexico’s Ministry of Energy in projecting much larger returns. Two years ago the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that northern Mexico reserves held 13 billion barrels of shale oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, ranking the region as one of most potentially productive shale energy zones on the planet.

Pemex anticipates that the oil and gas producing basins of Coahuila and neighboring Nuevo Leon could attract over $US 100 billion in investment to drill 8,000 to 10,000 oil and gas wells. Coahuila state authorities added that they expected $US 64 billion of that total to be invested in their state, and that 240,000 jobs would result. Earlier this year a report by the University of Texas at San Antonio, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Asociacion de Empresarios Mexicanos, and the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute was similarly enthusiastic. The report asserted that Mexico is in an ideal situation to reap the benefits of unconventional extraction techniques.

Read more…


Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico (Part 2/8)

June 25, 2015

Day 2 of our on-going article excerpts. Stay tuned for more!

Water Scarcity Could Deter Energy Developers From Crossing Border Into Northern Mexico 

by Keith Schneider

A Confrontation in Approaches

Such issues anchor the momentous and era-changing choices that the desert Mexican state of nearly 3 million residents faces. In large measure shale oil and gas drilling is a 20th century construct, a readily recognizable strategy to mass potentially enormous energy resources, intensive industrial infrastructure, and huge sums of financial capital to achieve heightened economic development. In short, drilling a lot of oil and gas wells, and building a transport and processing infrastructure, is a familiar formula for growth.

But is the plan for mammoth oil and gas development potentially reckless? How much of what’s envisioned in Coahuila is really possible in the challenging demographic, resource-scarce, and drying conditions of the 21st century? In other words, Coahuila closely resembles southern Mongolia, northern China, the American West, Australia, and southern Africa, where growing cities, agriculture, and energy development fiercely compete for resources, especially diminishing supplies of fresh water.

Giant sprinkler machines called ‘Pivote Central’ bring water to alfalfa fields in the Valle Hundido near Cuatro Cienegas. The wheels pivot around a center, connected to a well that supplies its water. The level of the aquifer that feeds these fields has dropped so much in the past decade that the surface water on the nearby lake Laguna Churince has completely disappeared. Residents are unsure which companies are behind the large alfalfa fields, but they speculate that they are related to large dairy farms near Torreón that use the alfalfa to feed their livestock. Officials estimate that there are more than 30 of these pivotes in the area.

Giant sprinkler machines called ‘Pivote Central’ bring water to alfalfa fields in the Valle Hundido near Cuatro Cienegas. The wheels pivot around a center, connected to a well that supplies its water. The level of the aquifer that feeds these fields has dropped so much in the past decade that the surface water on the nearby lake Laguna Churince has completely disappeared. Residents are unsure which companies are behind the large alfalfa fields, but they speculate that they are related to large dairy farms near Torreón that use the alfalfa to feed their livestock. Officials estimate that there are more than 30 of these pivotes in the area.

The confrontation is so fraught with ecological urgency and climatic change that decades of entrenched regional economic policy and resource practices are shifting. Australia rewrote its water use statutes and spent billions of dollars to rebuild its irrigation network in the Murray-Darling Basin following a vicious 12-year drought. China shifted its major grain producing region to the wet Northeast and launched the world’s largest solar and wind energy sector to reduce water consumption in the drying Yellow River Basin. In the United States, a four-year drought prompted California to issue the first mandatory water restrictions in its history. The state also is much more closely overseeing water use and wastewater disposal in its oil industry, the nation’s third largest.

For the time being, the mega energy development paradigm prevails in Coahuila. Sometime later this year, or early in 2016, oil and gas companies could provide more insight into what they think is possible in the desert when Mexico opens bidding for oil and gas development rights to foreign companies. The new market is due to a change in Mexico’s Constitution in 2013, and new regulations in 2014, that made foreign investment possible in the country’s oil and gas sector.

Read more…


Upcoming Conference! Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border

June 9, 2015

WHEN: Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 8:00am-4:15pm

WHERE: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, the Border Trade Alliance, and the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos invite you to our second annual high-level “Building a Competitive U.S.-Mexico Border” conference. Speakers will discuss the state of the art in border and transportation infrastructure, growth in the energy sector, border-region innovation, and the need for efforts that simultaneously support security and efficiency in border management.

There will be a live webcast of this event.

Agenda

8:00 – 8:30am Registration 

8:35 – 8:45am  Welcome, Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute

8:45 – 9:35am   Legislative Opportunities to Strengthen Border Competitiveness
Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23)
Senator Ernesto Ruffo Appel, Presidente de la Comisión de Asuntos Fronterizos Norte
Moderator: Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member and Former Mexican Ambassador to the United States

9:35 – 10:15am  Keynote, Senator John Cornyn (TX), Majority Whip, United States Senate
                         Introduction, Andrew Selee, Executive Vice President, Wilson Center

10:30 – 12:00pm  Building Tomorrow’s Border Today: The State of the Art in Infrastructure Financing, Customs, and Port of Entry Management
Geronimo Gutierrez, Director, North American Development Bank
Jesse Hereford, Chairman, Border Trade Alliance, Director of Business Development, S&B Infrastructure
Jose Martin Garcia, Representative for the Mexican Treasury and Tax Administration Service in Washington, DC
Moderator: Erik Lee, Executive Director, North American Research Partnership

12:00 – 12:25pm  Keynote, Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner, Customs and Border Protection (Confirmed)
     Introduction: TBA

12:25 – 1:30pm Lunch: Crossborder Cooperation for a Competitive North America
Opening Remarks: Michael Camuñez, President and CEO, ManattJones Global Strategies, Board Member, Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos
Keynote Address: Ildefonso Guajardo, Secretary of Economy (Invited)

1:30 – 2:15pm Energy Revolutions: How Natural Gas and Renewables are Changing the Border Energy Landscape
Omar Garcia, South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable
Thomas Tunstall, Research Director, Institute for Economic Development, The University of Texas at San Antonio
Moderator and Comments on Renewable Energy: Duncan Wood, Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

2:15 – 2:35pm Break

2:35 – 3:25pm Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Building Ideas, Human Capital, and New Businesses in the Border Region
Rachel Poynter, Acting Director, Office of Mexican Affairs, Department of State
Ricardo Alvarez, Professor, CETYS University, Baja California
Rogelio de los Santos, Managing Director, Alta Ventures Mexico (Invited)
Moderator: Christopher Wilson, Deputy Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

3:25 – 4:00pm A Conversation on the Evolution of U.S.-Mexico Cooperation in Border Management
Ambassador Alejandro Estivill, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Mexico
Alan Bersin, Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer, Department of Homeland Security
Moderator: Denise Ducheny, Center for US-Mexico Studies, UC San Diego, and member, BECC NADB Board of Directors

4:00 – 4:15pm Concluding Remarks
Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos
Border Trade Alliance
Christopher Wilson, Deputy Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

CLICK HERE TO RSVP


Mexico’s Soriana plans two wind farms to power its stores

June 5, 2015

06/05/15 Reuters

windmillMEXICO CITY, June 4 (Reuters) – Organizacion Soriana, Mexico’s second-largest supermarket chain, said on Thursday it would build two $130 million wind farms with Mexican renewable energy group Gemez in Tamaulipas state to provide energy exclusively for its stores.

Read more…


Report: How to make business sense of Mexico’s energy reform

June 3, 2015

6/1/2015 Fuel Fix

energy- oil pumps 2Mexico is opening its oil and gas fields to foreign investment for the first time in decades – a potential business bonanza for companies that can navigate the changes.

A preliminary report released last week on Mexican energy reform was prepared by the University of Texas at San Antonio Institute for Economic Development, the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, the Asociacion de Empresarios Mexicanos and the Woodrow Wilson Center.

The report is aimed at companies on both sides of the border trying to figure out how to get a toehold in the new energy market in Mexico.

Read more…

Download the report here.


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