Alejandro Alegría Periódico La Jornada
Sunday, September 18, 2022, p.
19Natural gas represents a challenge for Mexico's energy self-sufficiency, according to a study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), as the country imports up to 90 percent of its fuel demand from
the United States.
The growing dependence on gas imported from the United States has caused concern among analysts and official circles about the risks and consequences of a price shock or supply interruption, according to the analysis El gas natural en México (Natural gas in Mexico).
The authors recalled that in February of last year, when the energy supply to Mexico was cut off as a consequence of a winter storm in Texas, the country experienced a crisis with the interruption of electricity and a higher cost for the purchase of liquefied gas from other suppliers.
The study refers that with the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Mexican government -at that time headed by Carlos Salinas de Gortari- accepted and promoted a policy of natural gas imports, for which it established a legal, regulatory, normative and institutional framework around imports as a way to open the sector to private parties, create competition and limit the monopoly, which continued with the reform promoted by Enrique Peña Nieto, which created an open market.
More than 25 years after Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) was limited in that market, imports satisfy 70 percent of the demand for natural gas, but these increase up to 90 percent with the self-consumption of the Mexican oil company, while all the activities of the value chain are open to foreign capital.
"That situation is not the desirable one from the point of view of the current administration, whose greatest aspiration is self-sufficiency with Pemex as the guarantor of that purpose.
The main obstacle to achieving this is the market model that is so difficult to change due to numerous and different restrictions, which explains its strategy of increasing the presence, control and supervision of the State.
Since 2014, natural gas is the most consumed fuel in the country, so its share in primary consumption reaches 48 percent and its use grew on average 3.5 percent annually between 2000 and 2019.
Domestic production reached a historic high of 7 billion 31 million cubic feet per day in 2009, and since that date began its decline
More than 60 percent of the electricity consumed in the country is generated with gas, due to its technical, economic and environmental advantages, in addition to being a bridge in the energy transition, so its predominance is estimated to last until more than 2050.
Imports multiplied by 20 in the last decade: in 2010 281 million cubic feet per day were imported and 10 years later 5,686 million cubic feet per day, he said
Mexico is the main destination for exports of gas produced in the United States, representing between 6.5 and 7.5 percent of the total produced in that country.
According to the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH), Mexico is an atypical case, since it imports 90 percent of its energy from the United States, when its dependence on other nations does not exceed 52 percent and less from a single source.
The study considers that the challenge is enormous, since it is estimated that by 2030 Mexico will only be able to cover 10 percent of its consumption with domestic production.