For 75 years, Mexico has been energy independent, a point of pride for many in the country. Because of this, it has not only been able to supply its own power but it also serves as the second largest supplier of oil for the United States. However, its oil supplies are quickly dwindling, leading to an energy reform in Mexico that‚Äôs getting global attention.
In 2004, Mexico reached the peak of its oil production, producing 3.8 million barrels of oil per day. But since, the country's oil production has been on the decline. By 2011, Mexico's production dropped to just 2.96 million barrels per day.
The biggest problem is that Pemex, Mexico's oil monopoly, doesn't have the financial resources to harness oil reserves offshore or capture natural gas supplies through fracking, where much of the country's energy lies. Mexico has an estimated 260 trillion cubic feet of shale gas resources as well as an additional 14 billion barrels of oil that can't be reached. Pemex needs foreign and private investors to help finance the excavation of these resources.
So in early August, President Enrique Pe√Īa Nieto announced an energy reform that would open up Mexico's energy market to foreign investors for the first time since 1938. However, revolutionizing the energy industry in Mexico has not been an easy task. To pass the legislation, the country had to amend three articles of its constitution and send the bill through Congress for approval.
But on December 12, the reform bill passed through its final hurdle as Mexico's Congress approved the amendments to the constitution. The new law will allow foreign and private investors to enter the country's energy industry to help harness the country's vast resources through production-sharing and profit-sharing agreements.
Experts believe this reform could cause a boom for the Mexican economy. The country will benefit from new technologies, increased financing and of course an abundant supply of energy resources. Some predict it could increase the country's GDP by 2 percent and even add as many as 2.5 million jobs for Mexico's citizens by 2025.
For the United States, the economic projections in Mexico could mean less unauthorized emigration. It will also allow the U.S. to acquire new sources of energy that could boost it into the energy independence it's been striving for.
However, the reform has its environmental implications as well. For example, the new bill contradicts goals outlined by Mexico's General Law on Climate Change that was passed in April 2012. The law requires a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 and a 50 percent reduction by 2050. It also commits Mexico to using 35 percent renewable energy in its electricity mix by 2024.
Increasing drilling is only likely to hamper this legislation's success. Fracking itself has a slew of environmental risk factors including the release of methane gas, water contamination and even earthquakes.
And offshore drilling is prone to oil spills. According to the EPA, there are nearly 14,000 oil spills in U.S. waters alone each year, though most are small. Furthermore, the emissions caused by drilling, refining and transporting oil will only increase Mexico's carbon footprint.