Category Archives: Mexico
Officially known as the United Mexican States.
September 26, 2012 – 3:44 pm
The agency said local authorities closed Bridge II linking the city to Piedras Negras, Mexico, to traffic in the morning citing safety concerns, which local news media said were prompted by the discovery of a “suspicious device.”
Eagle Pass is not one of the principal hubs for trade or visitors over the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) U.S. Mexico border.
It’s not widely known outside the Rio Grande Valley, but a “suspicious device” was discovered in Starr County, Texas back in August ( above photo ). It was an improvised explosive device. It was discovered on a ranch through which illegal aliens often slip into the United States.
If illegal aliens and coyotes can slip through there, so can the type of people who tend to play around with IEDs.
There’s no word yet on the nature of today’s suspicious device in Eagle Pass.
- Texas-Mexico border bridge shut over “safety concerns” (news.terra.com)
- Zetas gang threatens Mexico’s shale gas near border (appliedagrotech.net)
The gas fields extend from the booming Eagle Ford play of South Texas deep into the ranch and coal country stretching inland from this violent border city. This is Zetas country, among the most fearsome of Mexico’s criminal badlands.
U.S. and Mexican energy companies long have been besieged by the gangsters here – their workers assaulted, extorted or murdered – despite a heavy military and federal police presence. Now, with feuding Zetas factions bloodying one another and fending off outside rivals, what has been a bad situation threatens to get much worse.
Northern Mexico’s gas production has suffered for years as gangland threats or attacks have kept workers from servicing the wellheads, pipelines and drilling rigs in the Burgos Basin, the territory between the Rio Grande and the city of Monterrey, which now provides up to 20 percent of Mexico’s natural gas.
“Petroleos Mexicanos has problems with security … principally in Burgos,” Guillermo Dominguez, a senior member of the National Hydrocarbons Commission, told the Mexico City newspaper Reforma.
And now the surging Zetas bloodletting pits the gang’s top bosses – Heriberto Lazcano and Miguel Angel Treviño – against Ivan Velazquez, a former underling known as “El Taliban.” From his base in the western state of Zacatecas, Velazquez reportedly has allied with the remnants of other gangs to launch a challenge for control of Coahuila state, which holds most of the shale gas reserves.
Challenge to control
Banners recently hung by both Zetas factions have accused one another of treason and other transgressions that will be avenged with death. Fighting has rattled Nuevo Laredo, the Zetas stronghold that also is the busiest land port for U.S.-Mexico trade, killing scores this month alone.
Still more banners appeared in Nuevo Laredo Tuesday, reputedly written by beleaguered civilians, promising all the gangster factions further bloody vengeance.
“Zetas are pretty much in control, but they have been challenged,” said a U.S. official in Mexico who monitors the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity. “You have all these groups fighting one another, shifting alliances and internal fights … It’s a wilderness of mirrors.”
The Zetas’ spats with rivals already have turned Coahuila’s other large cities – Torreon in the west, Monclova in the center and Saltillo in the east – into fierce gangland battlegrounds. State officials are blaming the Sept. 17 escape of 131 prisoners from a Piedras Negras prison on the Zetas seeking to replenish their ranks for new battles.
The insecurity in Mexico’s gas fields contrasts sharply with the drilling and production frenzy seizing the ranchlands just north of the border. Oil field pickups and semi-trailer fuel tankers choke Highway 83, the once-desolate ranch-country highway that cuts northwest from Laredo though the lower reaches of the Eagle Ford.
Some 6,000 drilling permits have been issued for Eagle Ford shale in Texas, and 550 wells are producing there. By comparison, Pemex so far has drilled five exploratory shale gas wells, but hopes to drill 170 more in the next four years. The company plans to spend $200 million on exploration in the short term.
Those first exploratory wells have been drilled to the west of Nuevo Laredo and below the border at Piedras Negras, ranch and coal country that remains relatively violence free for now. But that tranquility may owe more to the now-threatened dominance of the Zetas bosses than to rule of law.
“They are in control,” said a U.S. official. “They are pretty much just doing their thing.”
At least eight Pemex and contract employees vanished in May 2010 near a gas facility near Falcon Lake, territory under the Zetas’ firm control. Last March, two men working for a Mexican company doing contract work for Houston-based Halliburton disappeared outside Piedras Negras.
Halliburton spokeswoman Tara Mullee-Agard said employees get regular security briefings, but the company declined to comment on the contractors’ disappearance.
“Many companies that were active in the areas have stopped until Pemex or the government can provide security,” said an employee of one Reynosa-based company. “In places where there have been incidents we don’t operate anymore. When darkness falls, we stop wherever we are.
- Zetas crimping gas industry in northern Mexico (mysanantonio.com)
- Banners claim an alliance has been formed against the Zetas (mysanantonio.com)
- Mexico: State Officials Killed in Nuevo Laredo (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
- Piedras Negras “megafuga” just the latest massive prison break (mysanantonio.com)
- 132 inmates escape from Mexican prison near U.S. border (theprovince.com)
Fugro (Mexico) in conjunction with long-time associates, Constructora Subacuatica Diavaz, S.A. de C.V., has been awarded a large offshore multi-site high resolution geophysical and geotechnical survey by Mexico’s national oil company PEMEX.
Overall value of the contracts is estimated to be approximately EUR 50 million. Activity is scheduled to start late September 2012 and will continue through to August 2013.
- US Cal Dive, Fugro Enter Strategic Partnership for Toisa Paladin Charter (worldmaritimenews.com)
Posted on September 3, 2012 at 12:38 am by FuelFix.com
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s national oil monopoly has been issuing critical alerts seemingly every week, warning of natural gas shortages lasting hours or even days and crimping supplies to homes, power plants and factories.
And yet, the country has some of the world’s largest natural gas reserves and easy access to a cheap and plentiful U.S. supply.
“There hasn’t been enough energy planning in this country,” said Raul Monteforte, a former senior official with Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission who’s now development director for Fermaca, a private Mexican transportation pipeline company. “Huge errors of omission have brought us a gas crisis.”
The gas squeeze will only worsen as many of Mexico’s new and existing electricity plants abandon coal and other fuels in favor of natural gas, gobbling up much of the available supply.
Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, as the monopoly is called, will prove unable to get much more of the gas produced in its own fields to market.
Amid renewed political pressure to further open Mexico’s energy industries to private interests, energy planners have launched a frenzied expansion of the country’s woeful pipeline system. As much as 3 billion additional cubic feet per day of U.S. natural gas, most of it from Texas, will feed the new grid.
Central Mexican cities have been the worst affected by the critical shortage, but even companies in Monterrey, the industrial powerhouse that abuts the sprawling Burgos Basin gas fields, have been slammed.
“Such obstacles can’t be permitted, even less so ones provoked by a state monopoly,” Caintra, a leading Monterrey business association, declared in a full-page newspaper ad. “We demand an immediate solution.”
Texas, Arizona lines
Using an offshore Pemex subsidiary supposedly free of Mexican congressional oversight and constitutional restrictions, planners are rushing to build two new U.S. pipelines – to the Arizona border south of Tucson and from near Corpus Christi to the Rio Grande – to push that U.S. gas deep into the Mexican heartland.
Officials say the new pipelines will be completed by the late summer 2014.
But Monteforte and other critics contend that plans for the lion’s share of the expansion – shipping South Texas gas into the Mexican heartland – will assure Pemex’s grip on gas consumers for decades to come.
“If it flies I think Mexico’s gas market will remain in the hands of Pemex,” said Monteforte in criticizing the Texas pipeline proposal.
His company is building and will own a 225-mile pipeline from the border at El Paso to near Chihuahua City, he said.
“This will kill the opening of the gas market we’ve fought for since the 1990s,” he said.
The new U.S. pipelines, being contracted by Pemex’s MGI gas trading firm, will connect to a privately owned system being built across northwestern Mexico and to the much larger Los Ramones duct that will run from near the border at McAllen deep into central Mexico.
After sharp increases in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Mexico now imports some 15 percent of its natural gas supply from the United States, said Michelle Foss, program manager of the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology in Houston. By 2010, Mexico had increased its U.S. gas imports by 200 times what it did in the early 1980s.
Now, Mexico’s imports seem poised to spike again, perhaps bolstering prices for dry natural gas.
“Mexico will take all they can get and, as in the 1990s, could help to rebalance our market,” Foss said.
Project proposals for the South Texas pipeline – called the Agua Dulce to Frontera – were expected Monday. Pemex says the winning bid will be announced Sept. 18.
“For us it’s urgent to bring that gas,” said Guillermo Ortiz, a Mexico City executive who heads the energy committee at Canacintra, a leading Mexican industrial chamber. “They took a long time to contract for the pipelines. These types of situations are really hurting the consumers.”
- Mexico pipeline expansion may bring more money to Texas (fuelfix.com)
- Natural gas from Mexico beckons Texas companies (mysanantonio.com)
- Mexican Crime Syndicates Are Getting Into Stolen Petroleum (businessinsider.com)
- Will Texas oil companies get a shot at Mexico investments? (mysanantonio.com)
- Pemex’s El Perdido oil deposits may hold 10 billion barrels (fuelfix.com)
- Pena Nieto Push to Open Mexico Oil Fields Sparks Exxon Interest – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Mexico May Finally Get a Modern Oil Industry (businessweek.com)
By Dudley Althaus
MEXICO CITY — After more than a dozen attempts, Mexico’s national petroleum monopoly has struck significant oil very near the U.S. boundary in the ultra-deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, President Felipe Calderon said Wednesday.
“This is a great discovery,” Calderon said in announcing the find by Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, beneath more than 8,300 feet of water and miles of earth, the first successful well in a system that he said ultimately may hold as much as 10 billion barrels of oil.
“It will further strengthen our petroleum reserves and will permit Mexico to maintain and increase petroleum production in the medium and long term.”
Pemex has been scrambling in recent years to replace the sharp production declines in the Cantarell offshore field at the foot of the Gulf. Earlier deep water attempts have either produced dry wells or natural gas that’s uneconomical to exploit at current prices.
Pemex estimates that its Gulf reserves may hold as much as 27 billion barrels of petroleum.
The new discovery lies in the so-called Perdido belt of the Gulf, just 24 miles from the U.S. boundary and about 110 miles offshore of Mexico’s northeastern coast. Calderon said Wednesday the initial estimate of a deposit in the Perdido area on Mexico’s side of the Gulf was between 250 and 400 million barrels.
A partnership headed by Shell Oil, Chevron and British Petroleum has been producing about 100,000 barrels a day from three fields in U.S. territory about 30 miles north of the new Pemex discovery. The companies began producing from their Perdido wells in March 2010, after three years of exploration and development of the field.
“People thought Pemex would find oil in Perdido if they could just successfully drill a well,” said Houston analyst George Baker, who closely tracks Mexico’s energy industries. Now, Baker said, Pemex will have to find the means to actually bring to market the barrels of oil in the find.
“The whole science of how you produce from deep water has little to do with the science of discovering a well,” Baker said. “It’s much more difficult.”
The discovery is likely to fuel the impending debate over further opening Pemex and Mexico’s petroleum resources to private investment. Proponents have argued that Pemex needs private investment from companies to fully develop Mexico’s petroleum potential.
Not only is private investment needed to find deep water oil, but also to develop any petroleum finds and bring them to market, they say.
Getting at the deep water oil will indeed prove difficult for Pemex. But for now the find gives Calderon bragging rights for reversing what had been a rapid decline in Mexico’s petroleum reserves as Canterell plays out and other fields had struggled to keep up.
“We received a company that had not been able to successfully explore in deep waters,” Calderon said of Pemex at the start of his six year term. “Today we leave a company that is doing so with great success.”
“We knew it was indispensable to go after this wealth,” Calderon said.
Calderon and Pemex officials said the new find would not be in production for at least another five years.
Baker said available deep water pipeline technology may enable Pemex to export its oil through the Perdido production platform jointly owned by Shell or other multinationals.
But he suggested Pemex does not yet have the technical capability to make those connections. For now the well will have to be plugged, Baker said, a procedure whose risk the Deep Water Horizon disaster made all too clear.
Calderon said the new deep water find proves that “there is no frontier so distant or so deep that we can’t cross. There is no challenge, no matter how complicated, that we can’t overcome.”
- Pemex’s El Perdido oil deposits may hold 10 billion barrels (fuelfix.com)
- Mexico turns to Texas for relief during natural gas crisis (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Natural gas from Mexico beckons Texas companies (mysanantonio.com)
- Mexico May Finally Get a Modern Oil Industry (businessweek.com)
By Dudley Althaus Updated 08:45 p.m., Sunday, May 13, 2012
MEXICO CITY – Officials blamed the Zetas gang for the slaughter of 49 people whose headless, handless bodies were recovered early Sunday near a highway that leads from the industrial city of Monterrey to the South Texas border.
A message left with the bodies outside the oil refining town of Cadereyta – supposedly signed by the Zetas – claimed credit for the latest in a series of recent atrocities by rival criminal gangs waging a brutal terror campaign against one another. The message’s content was not disclosed.
Though the lack of heads or fingerprints obviously will complicate identification of the victims, authorities rushed to assure a beleaguered public that ordinary citizens aren’t being targeted.
The corpses of the 43 men and six women were dumped about 2 a.m. The victims were killed elsewhere as many as two days ago, Domene said.
Monterrey and its suburbs, home to some 4 million people, have become a crucial front of the gangland violence that has killed more than 50,000 people since President Felipe Calderon deployed federal forces against Mexico’s powerful gangs upon taking office in December 2006.
The escalating bloodshed has besieged Cadereyta and nearby towns in recent months as the Zetas battle their former paymasters from the Gulf Cartel for regional dominance. Both narcotics trafficking gangs are anchored in the Mexican cities bordering south Texas.
Thriving drug trade
In addition to its own local narcotics market, metropolitan Monterrey is an important warehousing center for cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs bound for U.S. consumers. Petroleum pipelines running between Cadereyta and the border have also been among those most tapped by thieves, supplying Mexico’s vibrant black market for gasoline and other petroleum products. Small towns, ranches and isolated clusters of weekend houses between Monterrey and the border long have been favored haunts for gangsters.
Fighting in the Monterrey area and along the border recently has worsened with the participation of gunmen loyal to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the crime boss based in the Pacific Coast state of Sinaloa. Considered Mexico’s most powerful gangster, Guzman reportedly has allied with the Gulf Cartel and returned to the region – especially to Nuevo Laredo – to take on the Zetas.
Sunday’s slaughter followed the murder last week of 18 people near the western city of Guadalajara – at least some of them apparent innocents kidnapped from once-bucolic towns where thousands of U.S. and Canadian retirees live. Officials also have blamed the Zetas for those killings, which supposedly were committed in response to the Guzman gang’s killing in the past month of dozens of alleged Zetas in Nuevo Laredo.
In response, Calderon’s government has extended cooperative security agreements with both Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states – which border Texas from upriver of Laredo to the Gulf of Mexico – to guarantee the continued presence of federal troops and police.
“We are not going to yield, we will never yield,” Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina said in signing the agreement Thursday in Monterrey. “We will continue investing and taking the necessary actions so that Nuevo Leon has solid institutions and safe cities.”
Zetas inmates aided by guards murdered 44 other prisoners allegedly belonging to the Gulf Cartel in the state prison in Apodaca, another Monterrey suburb in mid-February. More than 30 of the Zetas prisoners then slipped over the jail walls. The prison’s new warden, named just three weeks ago, resigned Sunday citing “personal reasons.”
Intended to terrorize rivals and the general population, the public display of butchered corpses has replaced the traditional gangland practice of burying victims in clandestine mass graves. Hundreds of bodies were collected from such graves last year in both northeastern Mexico and the western state of Durango.
But in September killers allied with Guzman dumped 35 bodies of accused Zetas on an highway interchange near an upscale suburban mall in the port of Veracruz. Zetas and their allies responded in November by leaving 26 corpses, supposedly belonging to members of Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel, in downtown Guadalajara. The Zetas also claimed the massacre of several dozen people in Sinaloa this spring.
“I have no doubt that this is a media measure taken by organized crime to get the attention of the public and the rival group,” Javier del Real, the retired army general who was recently appointed head of Nuevo Leon’s state police, said of the Cadereyta incident at Sunday’s news conference. “They achieved that result.”
Cartoon by “Chip” Bok
May 6th 2012
A section of the draft of contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder is dedicated to explaining how Fast & Furious branches off into different departments within the Department of Justice (DOJ).
While most know about the operation being based in Phoenix, the strategy was actually developed in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) in Washington, DC. The ODAG decided it would be brilliant to concentrate on identifying the members of the trafficking network instead of seizing the firearms right away.
The goal was to capture the big fish of the cartels. The ATF Phoenix Field Office decided to use this strategy in Fast & Furious. But that wasn’t good enough for them and in late January 2010 the office “applied for Fast and Furious to become an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) case.” In order to do that the agents had to tell all about their investigative strategy, i.e. gunwalking. It was approved and was given new funding. Also, since it became a prosecutor-led OCDETF Strike Force case, other departments would come in. Those include FBI, DEA, IRS, and ICE under the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. Fast & Furious came to the attention of ATF headquarters on December 8, 2009. The ATF’s Office of Strategic Information and Intelligence (OSII) told senior personnel about the operation, especially about recoveries of weapons in Mexico. But the more statistics they received, the more concerned they became about the operation.
Deputy ATF Director Billy Hoover called for an exit strategy in March 2010. He received one in May, but we all know it didn’t happen. The office continued to delay the indictments and ATF headquarters never demanded them to arrest the straw purchasers. Operation Wide Receiver, a gun tracking operation during the George W. Bush administration, is often brought up to deflect from Fast & Furious. Most people on the other side want to prosecute that case instead. Well, as it turns out, the DOJ’s Criminal Division sent prosecutors to Arizona to help the US Attorney to prosecute cases, including Wide Receiver. Indeed, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer was very interested in the operation. James Trusty, senior official in the Criminal Division’s gang Unit, said Mr. Breuer was very interested in the case and wanted to be briefed on it. A briefing on March 5, 2010, “highlighted the large number of weapons the gun trafficking ring had purchased and discussed recoveries of those weapons in Mexicio.” Steve Martin, Deputy Assistant Director in ATF’s Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information, said everyone knew the guns were being linked to the cartels. However it’s the wiretaps that prove how deeply involved the Criminal Division was with Fast & Furious. It shouldn’t come to anyone’s shock that the DOJ hasn’t handed over the applications to the Committee. After all, the top dogs signed them: Deputy Assistant Attorney Generals Jason Weinstein, Kenneth Blanco, and John Keeney. It’s more than obvious the DOJ can say this was just a local issue. There’s more than enough evidence to prevent them from continuing to brush it off as a rogue field office mistake.
- Is Fast and Furious the Next Watergate? (mb50.wordpress.com)