Mexico Looking For US Help In Fracking Along The Border

By Lorne Matalon
March 07, 2014

Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas company, Pemex, is drilling 29 exploratory wells along the Texas border. Pemex says it needs help from the United States to do the work because Mexico doesn’t have the experience with the cost-effective technology of fracking.

Pemex has drilled those wells in and around Ojinaga, the dusty border town across the Rio Grande from Presidio, Texas. And U.S. companies are salivating at the prospect of drilling in Mexico — something that was unthinkable until Mexico reformed its constitution in December to allow foreign investment in the oil and gas sector.

The reform ended Pemex's 75-year monopoly, declared in 1938 when Mexico nationalized its energy resources. It did so in part to reduce U.S. influence inside Mexico.

Since then corruption and poor management have crippled Pemex. It says it needs foreign technology to extract oil and gas because its equipment and outdated methods have failed. Pemex says it has identified at least 18 trillion cubic meters of oil and gas on the border – enough to run New York City for 55 years.

The Eagle Ford of Texas, an oil and gas field formed on the floor of an ancient sea, extends into Chihuahua. But without U.S. fracking technology, those reserves will remain out of reach for Mexico.

Paul Hunt is the chief elected official in Presidio County, Texas.

“Drilling’s part of the emphasis on bilateral trade here across the border, and here we are on the border. We should be able to take advantage of that,” Hunt said.

Mexico’s Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell says his office is studying the environmental effect fracking would have along the border. But he says Mexico wants to move from exploration to extraction next year.