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May-05-2010 13:07printcomments

Environment News: Mexico Goes for Gulf Oil

The Mexican navy has announced it is on alert and ready to participate in any actions needed to counter the oil slick.

Mexican oil well

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) - A Delaware-sized oil slick contaminating the Gulf of Mexico hasn’t stopped Mexican plans to extract more of the black gold from ocean waters. Even as the United States grappled with the environmental disaster spawned from last month’s explosion/fire at the Deepwater Horizon platform operated by British Petroleum off the Louisiana coast, an official with the Mexican National Oil Company (Pemex) announced this week plans to outsource as many as 14 new contracts to foreign companies for oil exploitation in the Gulf of Mexico. “The goal is to award the first contracts by the end of 2010,” said Carlos Morales, director of exploration and production for Pemex.

Downplaying a legal challenge in Mexico’s Supreme Court that contests a 2008 reform which permitted outsourcing some oil production, Morales suggested the high court would uphold the Constitutional change enacted by the Mexican Congress. “We can’t wait,” he said.

Several factors explain Mexico’s renewed push for Gulf oil. With older wells declining in output, Pemex seeks to tap into new gushers to keep an industry pumping that ranks as the number one source of Mexico's legal foreign exchange and provides the bulk of revenue for the country’s federal budget. Further, Mexico is racing to produce more Gulf oil at a moment when foreign energy companies like Shell and Chevron are beginning to drill closer to Mexican territorial waters.

“This is worrisome,” said oil industry expert Fabio Barbosa. “They are shared deposits and the resources belong to the two nations.” A new Mexico-US agreement on exploitation of the Gulf’s oil resources remains pending on the binational agenda between the two countries.

Meanwhile, a prominent Mexican environmental group warned this week against offshore drilling. Calling on countries to avoid repeating the Deepwater Horizon disaster by turning to renewable energy sources, Greenpeace Mexico said the ongoing oil spill could seriously threaten the Gulf of Mexico’s rich biodiversity.

According to the environmental organization, the Gulf contains five million acres of critical wetlands and provides habitat for 228 birds, including many migratory species. The Gulf, Greenpeace noted, hosts 29 species of marine mammals, five kinds of sea turtles, and a variety of edible creatures ranging from shellfish to tuna.

Approximately 40 percent of the sea food consumed in Mexico and nearly 16 percent of the sea food consumed in the US comes from the Gulf, according to the green group.

“Both governments should closely monitor the sea food harvested in the Gulf to guarantee that it is fit for human consumption,” Greenpeace urged.

The Deepwater Horizon calamity occurred at a time when portions of the Gulf were already environmentally stressed due to the growth of so-called “dead zones,” an ecological phenomenon in which algae blooms linked to the use of nitrogen fertilizers favored by US agribusiness deplete oxygen and leave waters virtually devoid of marine life. Covering an estimated 20,000 square miles, 150 such zones have appeared off the coasts of Louisiana, Texas and the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

The oil slick has not threatened Mexican waters so far. Mexican officials, however, are keeping a tab on the disaster and have prepared contingency plans if changes in weather and ocean currents send the slick towards their country’s shores. Mexican Environment Secretary Rafael Elvira Quesada and US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have been in communication about possible joint collaborations, and the Mexican navy has announced it is on alert and ready to participate in any actions needed to counter the oil slick.

Citing the US Minerals and Management Service, Inter Press Service recently reported that 858 explosions and fires, and 69 offshore deaths, have been connected to the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico since 2001. In the Deepwater Horizon incident, 11 workers were reported missing and presumed dead.


  • CNN, May 4, 2010.
  • La Jornada/Reuters, May 3, 2010.
  • Greenpeace Mexico, May 3, 2010.
  • El Universal, April 5 and May 3, 2010. Articles by Noe Cruz Serrano and the Notimex news agency.
  • Inter Press Service News Agency, April 28, 2010. Article by Emilio Godoy.
  • Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

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Dexter May 12, 2010 4:39 pm (Pacific time)

Roger Miles: If Vic had responded in a more sensible mature way like you did about Great Britain then I would not have been so defensive. I am sure that you had a comment like his that related to your country you would have reacted the same way. Our History lessons are not bias though, not like American history, that has been proved on the news, as well as written journals, to basically most of Europe scratching their heads in confusion as to what on earth the Americans were on when writing their version of world wide history. It took you lot one year to decide if you should have joined WW2, the first year of that war was the nastiest (fighting the best most battle hardened German force, before the Russians drew most of them away at a later date). People tend to forget how stretched our military was while trying to "SAVE" most of Europe. People also forget the problems we had on our supply ships while the Germans were having a well of a time torpedoing us. We also have a slight issue about our countries size and our limited resources. Also if I recall the Germans were so impressed with our fighting skills, whether it be flying planes, or fighting on the battle ground, they did ask us a few times (as well as giving us a chance) to join sides... I do not recall any Germans doing that with the Americans?!. I could go on about the whole history about the Americans and the British in WW1 and 2, but I wont, as this is a page about oil and not war. Also if you need updates about the British and their achievements (on their own merit) as well as helping the Americans out, and visa versa (whether it be war , business or technology), then please let me know and I will gladly forward that information on to you). BUT you were right about one thing though "18th century tyrannical government", yeah we were pretty nasty, but then again so were most other struggling ongoing empires like France and Spain that we were also occupied with while trying to take over a rather nice large bit of land called America lol. The problem is with America, no one likes to admit that they had any help in any way or form in creating their country, where most other countries are pretty none judgmental and are ok accepting the fact of having outside intervention they might have had here and there in their history. America thrives on boosting there egos and being brought up in the “we are the best” and kick ass philosophies” making you lot a not particularly modest country…even more so when it comes to swallowing your pride or admitting your mistakes. Do you hear the rest of the world behave in such a way?...nope. And this is why most people all over the world think the Americans are very arrogant egotistical people. I don’t hate the Americans, but I am frustrated that everywhere I go it’s the same old thing, which Vic and yourself have brought up (as an example). I think its great that the Americans have the closest ties to Great Britain, and obviously there cant be too many complaints or America would have ditched us a long time ago like the very tea bags that you ditched over the side of the ships at Boston lol. If I did not like America or the people that reside in this country I would not be here, nor would I have amazing friends like Tim and Bonnie, as well as all the other people I have met over here that I know look upon as family now ☺

Roger Miles May 6, 2010 6:34 pm (Pacific time)

Dexter you shouldn't take offense from some people who simply have no knowledge of our rich history and our close cultural ties. But please remember it was us who defeated your military which was once the best in the world, shortly after we severed ties with your 18th century tyrannical government. It was also us who answered the cries of help from England, led by that wonderful leader Sir Winston Churchill, to help you during WWII. We managed to help people around the world during that war, and we are still doing it today during difficult times. Many who don't like America seem to go bonkers when people talk about our Exceptionalism, but it is quite true. Possibly picking up a history book not written in Great Britain may provide you some insight on why you exist today. Maybe not though? But you exist because of us, and no way to spin that historical fact any other way. By the way, your welcome.

Dexter May 6, 2010 3:13 pm (Pacific time)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but most of you came from Europe including England ( yes that little country that took over most of the world, not like some country I know that you no doubt reside in ).
Plum pudding?! What on earth is that? , Have you been learning your history from a film called Mary Poppins?, next thing you will be saying is that we still have the London smog!. Great Britain I hate too say it, has contributed a lot in your rather narrow minded history, so much so we are actually doing quite well now when it comes to world wide politics, and trade. I think you should google Great Britain just to get your facts right. BP did not become as big as they are by wearing red coats and selling over priced tea bags to a bunch of Americans that were sad enough to parade around as the "real" Americans ( the native Americans). You obviously have an inferior complex in your narrow minded state. I suggest you go back too school and study your history again ( modern history might help as well) . I think you will be surprised how many countries out there " including yours" that have killed a lot of people in the name of expanding there so called empire. Next thing you will be blaming the Romans!.

Indie Smith May 6, 2010 12:50 pm (Pacific time)

Why wake up at all? Why go on? Just wink out...

Vic May 6, 2010 5:56 am (Pacific time)

Whatever, Dexter...Maybe YOU need to read some history. While contributing very little to the world,(unless you consider colonization, theft, mustard gas, chlorine poison gas and plum pudding to be contributions)Britain has colonized, subjugated and killed millions, if not billions in pursuit of The British Empire. Now what do they have? Half a stinking dirty little island. Karma perhaps? Why did British Petroleum change its name to "Beyond Petroleum" or just BP?

Dexter May 5, 2010 9:15 pm (Pacific time)

Oh really... the English f up?  Open up another cheap beer for me and repeat after me " GOD SAVE THE QUEEN"  Learn your history, and put a sock in it before you make such immature comments that are obviously coming from a person that has no idea about world wide politics, or maybe world wide history?!...but one thing I do know for sure is… you have no idea about BP or any other large oil companies history.

Vic May 5, 2010 5:12 pm (Pacific time)

It is called the Gulf of MEXICO last time I checked...too bad the british seem to destroy or F up every single thing they touch...My ancestors were British and I thank God every day I wake up somewhere other than there.

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