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America Giving Mexico Gas For a Change

Mexico imported a record amount of American natural gas in 2012, according to a new report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Mexico’s appetite for energy is increasing as its economy grows, but thus far its domestic production is unable to keep up with demand. Fortunately, thanks to the shale gas boom, the US has plenty of natural gas to spare. The EIA reports:

U.S. natural gas exports to Mexico grew by 24% to 1.69 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2012, the highest level since the data collection began in 1973. With imports now accounting for over 30% of its total supply, Mexico’s natural gas use is also at its highest level ever.

Natural gas consumption is rising faster in Mexico than natural gas production, and as a result, Mexico is relying more on natural gas imports from the United States….

Mexico plans to add about 28 gigawatts of new electric generating capacity between 2012 and 2027, mostly in northern Mexico, according to Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE)—Mexico’s state-run electricity provider…This level of growth would likely require increased natural gas imports from the United States.

The intertwining of the US and Mexico is a decidedly good thing. We’ve got the gas ready to export, and while the Obama administration dithers over permitting for the facilities necessary to export liquefied natural gas to countries like Japan, we can help fuel our southern neighbor’s burgeoning industries. A flourishing Mexican economy would be a boon for the US as well, boosting trade and reducing the pressures that drive mass immigration. The mainstream media continues to cover Mexico primarily in terms of illicit flows of immigrants and drugs and guns, and news like this goes a long way toward puncturing that gloomy narrative.

At the same time, Mexico still needs to develop its domestic production. It’s sitting on large shale reserves of its own, but is hampered by its stagnant, monolithic state-owned energy company, Pemex. Newly elected President Peña Nieto made energy reform a key promise of his campaign last year, and it looks like he intends to follow through. If he succeeds, Mexico is likely to join the US and Canada as a part of the North American powerhouse that could emerge as the center of world energy markets.

[North America image courtesy of Shutterstock.]

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