MONTERREY, Mexico – The director of the Binational Center at Texas A&M International University in Laredo would like to see binational, bicultural and bilingual energy industry workers transfer seamlessly from the Eagle Ford Shale to the Cuenca de Burgos.

To that end, Maria Eugenia Calderón-Porter will next year open the International Energy Institute in Laredo. The assistant vice president for global initial at TAMIU gave her thoughts in a speech at the 21st Annual U.S.-Mexico Border Energy Forum on Friday.

“Texas can barely keep up with the human resources required for its expanding oil and gas industry. Mexico/Pemex projects that they will have a deficit of 1,000 engineers and technicians to assign to the northern region,” Calderón-Porter explained, in a power point presentation.

“Seeking a fast track solution, TAMIU decided to take an inventory of the international regional strengths shared with Mexican universities and tech schools. TAMIU, a university structured by the State of Texas to work internationally, moved to identify the higher learning institutions in Mexico that already had coursework related to the oil and gas industry. By consolidating our mutual strengths, we have now embarked in a collaboration to create dual and joint degrees with Mexican universities.”

Calderón-Porter went on to say: “Late in 2015 will mark the start of our TAMIU International Energy Institute. The result of our collaboration will provide TAMIU with diverse and efficient tools for international higher education. We will have research opportunities and an international curriculum that will create international opportunities for a seamless bicultural, bilingual professional workforce that serves our border oil and gas industry.”

Maria Eugenia Calderón-Porter, director of the Binational Center at TAMIU, speaks at the 21st Annual U.S.-Mexico Border Energy Forum.
Maria Eugenia Calderón-Porter, director of the Binational Center at TAMIU, speaks at the 21st Annual U.S.-Mexico Border Energy Forum.

Calderón-Porter offered a list of the top ten jobs that are most difficult to fill in the shale play. They are:

1) Mechanical engineer

2) Field service technician

3) Production operator

4) Maintenance technician

5) Heavy machinery operator

6) Mechanic

7) Petroleum engineer

8) Geologist

9) Quality assurance/quality control inspector

10) Electrical engineer

In an interview with the Guardian after her presentation, Calderón-Porter provided the Guardian with more information about the International Energy Institute.

“In my presentation I created a circle of influence (extending in 250 mile radius from Laredo). We are all in this together. It is our regional support we have to give each other and our regional success that will drive us into prosperous urban development in the next years. In 2015 we kick off the International Energy Institute and everybody within the circle of influence should be on board. Different groups and institutions will be invited to be members. We have to understand ourselves as a region and to support ourselves and project success by communication. We cannot have a situation where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Especially our borders; our borders have to be united,” Calderón-Porter said.

Calderón-Porter explained that joint and dual degrees between Texas and Mexican universities have been in place for some time. However, they are becoming more important than ever because of the shortage of workers for the oil and gas industry in northern Mexico.

“We have many agreements in place and they are more important than ever,” Calderón-Porter told the Guardian. “We need to exchange our best inventory and the best inventory of the Mexican universities to create a bi-national, bi-cultural, bilingual student that can go seamlessly between borders and participate in this industry. We do not have enough human beings on the border. We have 2.7 million – that is not a lot. Not all of them are ready to go to work. As Pemex has reported, they are short 1,000 engineers. We have a lot of work to do.”

In her presentation, Calderón-Porter offered an interesting titbit of information about the Eagle Ford Shale. According to the Texas Railroad Commission, there are 20,000 square miles (50 x 400 miles) in Eagle Ford Shale, covering 12,800,000 acres with 320,000 wells at 40 acres each. There are 960,000 miles of pipe at 3 miles per well which would be 39 times around the earth at 24,901 miles.