Months of rumors have ended with authorities confirming the discovery of a large oil reserve in the Gulf of Mexico near Matamoros.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon made the announcement Friday morning.
A deep sea oil well in Gulf of Mexico located just 24 miles off the coast but some 155 miles south of Matamoros struck “black gold.”
Mexico’s national oil company PEMEX confirms that exploration at the site began back in June 2011.
The site is now expected to yield crude oil generating both jobs and income.
Located at about 9,500 feet deep, the site is expected to be Mexico’s deepest underwater drilling site and the eighth deepest in the world.
Once it’s up and running, PEMEX officials estimate the site will produce about 10,000 barrels of oil per day.
PEMEX officials believe the deep sea drilling site could yield a total of 125 million barrels of oil over its lifetime.
The Friday announcement is the second discovery is the new oil reserves found in two month’s time in the Gulf of Mexico.
PEMEX crews continue to explore the Gulf of Mexico in search of even more.
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.”
On Monday, Mexican president Felipe Calderon continued Mexico‘s tradition of blaming America for its self-induced problems, and continued his personal habit of blaming America’s gun laws for the fact that his policies have failed to dismantle Mexico’s drug cartels and, regrettably, that his failure has contributed to a severe increase in murders in Mexico.
At a White House news conference held in conjunction with his meeting with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, Calderon essentially repeated the claim he made during a speech to Congress in 2010, that Mexico’s murder rate increased when the U.S. “assault weapon” ban expired.
Through a translator, Calderon said that “The expiring of the assault weapons ban in the year 2004 coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the harshest — the harshest — period of violence we’ve ever seen.”
“Almost exactly?” As the ban’s leading supporter, then-president Bill Clinton, might have said, “it depends on how you define ‘almost.'”
The ban, which prohibited putting attachments such as adjustable-length stocks and flash suppressors on various semi-automatic firearms, expired in September 2004. Mexico’s sharp increase in murders began after Calderon launched his war against the drug cartels, within days of taking office in December 2006.
Reliable Mexican crime statistics are hard to come by, but cartel-related killings appear to account for the majority of murders in Mexico, and since Calderon put on Mexico’s presidential sash, cartel-related killings have sharply increased. A chart prepared by the Center of Research for Development (CIDAC) think tank shows that Mexico’s murder rate was gradually decreasing before Calderon took office, then began to rise after his war on the cartels began. Cartel-related killings rose from 2,800 in 2007, to 6,800 in 2008, 9,600 in 2009, and 15,000 in 2010.
This is not to blame Calderon for trying to destroy the cartels. We wish him well in that epic struggle. But if Calderon overestimated his ability to triumph over the corruption that has been entrenched in Mexico for more than a century, he will find no solution in decrying the expiration of the 1994-2004 ban. Nor will Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer be able to justify his opinion that NRA is a “cartel” that bears a “huge tacit responsibility in the bloodshed that is taking place in Mexico” because we oppose the ban’s reinstatement. Since the ban expired, the U.S. murder rate has dropped to about an all-time low, while Mexico’s rate has risen to about an all-time high. Numbers like those tell the story in any language, clearly enough for any politician or two-cent opinion vendor to understand.
By: Sylvia Longmire
For years, if not decades, Mexican drug lords and various upper-level members of Mexico’s transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) have resided in the United States. But because the savage drug war in Mexico has become so dangerous for them, they now prefer to spend more and more time at their “vacation” homes in the relative safety of US cities and communities.
Knowing that violent TCO members are living among us is disturbing on many levels, and has begged the question of whether the United States can be equated to Pakistan as a country that allows itself to be a “safe haven” for violent criminals and narco-terrorists?
In April 2006, the Department of State defined terrorist safe havens as follows:
“A terrorist safe haven is an area of relative security exploited by terrorists to indoctrinate, recruit, coalesce, train, and regroup, as well as prepare and support their operations… Physical safe havens provide security for many senior terrorist leaders, allowing them to plan and to inspire acts of terrorism around the world. The presence of terrorist safe havens in a nation or region is not necessarily related to state sponsorship of terrorism. In most instances cited in this chapter, areas or communities serve as terrorist safe havens despite the government’s best efforts to prevent this.”
Using the State Department’s own definition, one only has to replace the term “terrorist” with the term “TCO,” and a strong argument can be made that the United States fits technically can be construed to be a narco-terrorist safe haven.
Even Mexican President Felipe Calderón believes the US is a safe haven for leaders of cartels based in his country. In October 2011 he told The New York Times Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera – the capo of the Sinaloa Federation and arguably the most wanted man in the Western Hemisphere – was holed up somewhere north of the border.
“The surprising thing here is that he or his wife are so comfortable in the United States” that it “leads me to ask … how many families or how many Mexican drug lords could be living more calmly on the north side of the border than on the south side?” Calderón asked.
“What leads Chapo Guzmán to keep his family in the United States?” Calderón mussed.
Calderón broached the subject of Guzmán’s wife because in August 2011 Emma Coronel gave birth to twin girls in a Los Angeles hospital. Calderón said reporters ought to be asking why she was never detained.
There are no charges pending against Coronel; therefore, US law enforcement agents have no grounds to detain her. And, unfortunately, the same is true of many other members of Mexico’s TCOs who are residing in the United States.
The fact is many TCO members and individuals working for them have dual citizenship or are legal permanent residents of America. While they may have extensive criminal records in Mexico, as long as they haven’t committed a crime in the United States and Mexico hasn’t sought their extradition, they can lead relatively normal lives north of the border without law enforcement interference. This isn’t to say US law enforcement agencies aren’t aware of their presence or activities; it’s just that there’s not much they can do unless these TCO members commit a crime here.
It’s this situation that ultimately separates the United States from places like Pakistan when it comes to the “safe haven” definition. In April 2009, the State Department wisely updated their definition to read:
“Terrorist safe havens are defined in this report as ungoverned, under-governed, or ill-governed areas of a country and non-physical areas where terrorists that constitute a threat to U.S. national security interests are able to organize, plan, raise funds, communicate, recruit, train, and operate in relative security because of inadequate governance capacity, political will, or both.”
There are no areas in the US southwest that can be defined as “ungoverned, under-governed or ill-governed.” The US government is also not actively assisting TCO members living in the country or purposely ignoring their presence. In fact, US southern border region law enforcement agencies are more alert than ever to the potential threats posed by TCO members living in their jurisdictions. But that doesn’t mean the Mexican government will see it that way.
President Calderón has pointed his finger at the United States and blamed the federal government for the violence in his country. He says the drug war is a direct result of Americans’ demand for illegal drugs and US guns laws that allow tens of thousands of firearms to be smuggled across the border every year. Based on his casual statements about “El Chapo” Guzmán possibly living in the US, his next salvo may be to declare the United States a “narco safe haven” and to attempt some sort of legislative (and ultimately symbolic) action to this end.
Hopefully, this isn’t where Calderón is headed. He knows the US government is trying to fight this war as a partner with Mexico, despite its various policy shortcomings. President Obama also knows Calderón’s approval rating has been slipping and that his political party isn’t faring well in the run-up to Mexico’s July 2012 presidential election. It’s possible Calderón may still try to play the “narco safe haven” card, but if he does, it undoubtedly will be rebuffed by Obama.
In the meantime, US agencies can work harder to make America a much more difficult operating environment for TCO members by more aggressively scrutinizing suspicious financial transactions and expanding human intelligence networks to identify future drug smuggling activity.
Mexico’s “narcos” don’t operate in a vacuum on either side of the border. And while their networks are extremely difficult to penetrate, it’s not impossible. US law enforcement agents just need the proper tools and support to ensure that TCO members’ lives here are made as difficult as possible – that they’re made to understand their presence north of the border isn’t welcome.
A retired Air Force captain and former Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Homeland Security Today correspondent Sylvia Longmire worked as the Latin America desk officer analyzing issues in the US Southern Command area of responsibilty that might affect the security of deployed Air Force personnel. From Dec. 2005 through July 2009, she worked as an intelligence analyst for the California state fusion center and the California Emergency Management Agency‘s situational awareness Unit, where she focused almost exclusively on Mexican drug trafficking organizations and southwest border violence issues. Her book, “Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars,” was published in Sept. To contact Sylvia, email her at: sylvia(at)longmireconsulting.com.
- Violence Tops Results of Mexico’s 5-Year Drug War (foxnews.com)
- Mexico’s “Narco-Refugees”: The Looming Challenge for U.S. National Security (theromangate.wordpress.com)
- Drug violence in Mexico drives ‘narco-refugees’ into US (csmonitor.com)