MISSION, RGV – At the end of an absorbing discussion on oil exploration and production in the Burgos Basin in Mexico, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold quipped that Brownsville will become the next Dubai.

Farenthold, a Republican from Corpus Christi, used to represent Brownsville in Congress before the last redistricting cycle. He is a co-founder of the Texas Maritime Caucus.

“Look out Dubai, here comes Brownsville,” Farenthold said, during a congressional fact-finding meeting on transportation. Farenthold said he had heard from geologists that there is more oil and gas in Mexico than in Texas.

The meeting on transportation took place at the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce offices on Monday morning. Other participants included U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Roger Williams, R-Austin.

Congressmen Roger Williams, Blake Farenthold, and Henry Cuellar discussed transportation at a fact-finding meeting at the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce.
Congressmen Roger Williams, Blake Farenthold, and Henry Cuellar discussed transportation at a fact-finding meeting at the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce.

Discussion on the impact the Burgos Basin could have on the Rio Grande Valley started during a presentation by Port of Brownsville Director Eddie Campirano.

Campirano said the Port of Brownsville has gained “significant interest” because of its plans to develop liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals. He said just like SpaceX and the UT-Rio Grande Valley, LNG can be a “game-changer” for the Valley.

“What is currently occurring with Eagle Ford Shale in the area north of us is getting ready to occur here in the Rio Grande Valley,” Campirano predicted. “The Port of Brownsville is the only port that has the transportation infrastructure and significant land available to support major industrial development. The expansion of offshore oil exploration and production in the western Gulf, in both U.S. and Mexican waters, position us to be a major supplier for the industry. And, energy reform has the same potential with the Burgos Basin to impact the Valley similar to that of the Eagle Ford Shale play.”

Congressman Cuellar agreed with Campirano. “You know the potential for the Port is going to be tremendous with this oil and gas exploration,” Cuellar said. The Laredo Democrat recalled a conversation he had when Emilio Lozoya was appointed director general of PEMEX, Mexico’s national oil producer. “I asked him (Lozoya) what was the most important thing to the U.S.-Mexico at that time. He said the trans-boundary agreement that Mexico had passed and the U.S. hadn’t. So, we did that last year.”

Cuellar said that as he represents the South Texas area between Laredo and San Antonio he has seen the impact of Eagle Ford Shale.

“It has had a tremendous impact. I was with some of the PEMEX folks a couple of weeks ago when we were in Mexico City. They are in the process of passing the secondary law. Once they get that and once they get everything ramped up it (production in the Burgos Basin) is going to be tremendous,” Cuellar said.

“I think Brownsville is going to be a very important sea port for Mexico and U.S. relations. I really look forward to working with you all. I think if we do this right the growth of this South Texas area is going to be tremendous. It will be for many reasons but particularly because of the oil and gas industry that we have here.”

In response, Campirano said: “Congressman Cuellar, your comments about the Burgos Basin on the supply side of what can occur, I see the Valley as being playing a major role in being able to support what would be in our opinion where a lot of the foreign investment is going to come in on the shale play. So, the Valley as a whole has a major opportunity to be a big player in supporting that development.”

Congressman Williams agreed with Cuellar and Campirano.

“The opportunity you have here goes on forever. It is unlimited. I appreciate you being on top of the issues,” Williams told Campirano. “I would love to see it one day when Canada, the U.S., and Mexico group together and be the most dominant player in all of the world in energy and I think it will happen. You sit right in the middle of that. We want to help you with whatever you need but you sit in a great spot and thanks for your leadership on this.”

Cuellar concurred. “I have always made this statement but I will continue to stand by it: if Mexico does its job well with its (energy industry) reform, if you put Canada, the U.S., and Mexico together we will be the new Middle East of the world because of the reserves we have. Mexico has a lot of reserves. We will be the Middle East of the world and you all (the Valley in general and the Port of Brownsville in particular) will be right in the middle of all of this,” Cuellar said.

Campirano responded with this observation: “From a transportation perspective, what that will do is drive more north-south connections than we currently have. We have a great east-west connection but the north-south corridor, whether it is from South America to Canada that will be a huge push to see greater infrastructure supporting that trade relationship.”

In addition to Campirano, presentations were made by Sam Vale, on behalf of the Border Trade Alliance and the South Texas Assets Consortium, Pete Sepulveda, on behalf of the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, Pilar Rodriguez, on behalf of the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility, Andrew Canon, on behalf of the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization, Ivan Jaime, on behalf of Union Pacific, and Barry McClure, on behalf of Ironhorse Resources, Inc.