REYNOSA, Tamps – Elected officials from the Rio Grande Valley say they are impressed with plans the State of Tamaulipas has in place to exploit the massive oil shale play in the Cuenca de Burgos.

Five Valley leaders were invited to a meeting and lunch hosted by Tamaulipas Governor Egidio Torre Cantú at Reynosa’s famous La Fogata restaurant on Monday. The five were state Sen. Juan Hinojosa, state Rep. Sergio Muñoz, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez and McAllen’s superintendent for international bridges, Rigo Villarreal.

Torre Cantú gave an in-depth power-point presentation on the yet-to-be tapped energy reserves that Tamaulipas possesses. According to studies, the Cuenca de Burgos is far bigger than Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale.

“There is no doubt that Governor Torre Cantú is very proactive and that the State of Tamaulipas has done its homework in terms of what needs to be done with the infrastructure needs and the educational needs and how to provide a system that also benefits families by providing them with high paying jobs,” said Hinojosa, at the conclusion of the meeting.

Also present at the meeting were Reynosa Mayor Pepe Elías Leal, Tamaulipas’ secretary of energy, José María Leal Gutiérrez, and María Esther Camargo Félix, rector for the Universidad Tecnológica de Tamaulipas Norte in Reynosa. Top officials from Pemex, Mexico’s national energy company were also at the meeting.

Tamaulipas Governor Egidio Torre Cantú hosted a discussion at La Fogata in Reynosa on Mexico's energy reforms and what they will mean for his state.
Tamaulipas Governor Egidio Torre Cantú hosted a discussion at La Fogata in Reynosa on Mexico’s energy reforms and what they will mean for his state.

Under historic and sweeping reforms signed into law by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s energy sector is being deregulated. Multinational oil producers are being encouraged to move into a market previously dominated by Pemex. The hope and expectation is that electricity prices will fall as a result of a more market-driven economy.

Sen. Hinojosa chairs a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources that is looking at the likely impact on Texas of Mexico’s energy reforms.

“The meeting today reaffirmed what we already know in Texas – that Mexico has great potential not only in the energy sector but the whole economy. The energy reforms are key to the growth and the economic system in Mexico. To allow private investment in Pemex and the energy sector of Mexico is huge,” Hinojosa said.

The McAllen senator said it was clear from Gov. Torre Cantú’s presentation that the State of Tamaulipas is going to play a major part in the transformation that will sweep Mexico. He said Texas can be of great assistance.

“A great change is taking place in Mexico. For us in Texas, we have much experience with Eagle Ford Shale. We have the expertise, we have the knowledge; we have the experience that we want to share with Mexico. We certainly have the equipment and the investors that want to work as a partnership with Mexico. Tamaulipas is a border state, just like Texas and obviously what benefits the economy in northern Mexico also benefits along the border in our state,” Hinojosa said.

“The studies we have seen and read show the Burgos shale area has a much bigger potential of oil and gas than Eagle Ford Shale. It is huge. Eagle Ford Shale has been an incredible boost to our economy in Texas and our country, almost to the point of us being self-sufficient in oil and gas. It is important that we continue to work with our neighbors to the south, particularly the State of Tamaulipas. What is good for them is good for us.”

Rep. Muñoz echoed the remarks of Sen. Hinojosa. “This meeting showed that the State of Tamaulipas is being very pro-active, that they have got a plan in place and are working with different partners, in the public and private sector,” Muñoz said.

Muñoz told the Guardian after the meeting that he believes oil shale extraction in the Cuenca de Burgos, with Texas oil companies and workers potentially playing a part, will bring Tamaulipas and Texas even closer economically.

“The effort now is to try to connect the regulatory bodies and governments between Texas and Tamaulipas and to work out how we can improve connectivity benefit both states and both regions. They (Tamaulipas) are really taking the initiative in bringing out the best in these energy reforms. We can learn a lot from Eagle Ford Shale in the areas of exploration, technology, and bring those resources and tools to the areas here in the state and the Gulf of Mexico. There is a lot of potential. The question is how we realize that in the best way possible,” Muñoz said.

Asked how transformational Mexico’s energy reforms will be, Muñoz said: “It is going to transform our communities in a very positive manner. We can find a way to bring more investment and create more jobs and really put a lot of the talent we have in the communities to work. When you have people on both sides looking at improving the quality of life for the people who live within their own communities – it is all about finding ways to make that happen in the best way possible. It will have an impact throughout both countries.”

In his remarks during the two-hour one-hour discussion, Mayor Darling said he believes the energy reforms will have a major impact. “With the development of this oil field in Mexico, this is going to be a game changer for our whole hemisphere. Hopefully, elected officials in the United States understand the importance of Mexico in all of this,” Darling said.