Following marathon legislative sessions last week, the Mexican Congress finally approved the long awaited secondary laws associated with President Enrique Peña Nieto’s energy reform, clearing the way for implementation of the reform. Once President Peña signs the laws into effect today, August 11, 2014, we may become a monkey’s uncle, since that is what we have always said would happen if Mexico’s energy industry was opened to the private sector. We are astonished this is occurring in our lifetime.
Of course, no one, starting with Mr. Peña himself, knows exactly what will happen now. One thing we do know will not happen, however, is that national oil company Pemex will be “privatized,” as professional tear-factories and guardians of the national mythology such as Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his allies on the far left customarily wail. Pemex won’t be privatized, not because Peña and his allies in the right-wing opposition PAN wouldn’t do it if they could, but because no for-profit, private-sector oil company would want to buy Pemex. The value is in the oil and gas, not in the shamefully dysfunctional national oil company, and if you can drink the milk without buying the cow, well, you know. And Pemex is one hideous, bloated, corrupt and inedible cow.
So there is the challenge to the stewards or our national development and prosperity, and in this, the left may yet be proven right. The Mexican government must permit incentive-based contracts, concessions, partnerships or whatever they will be called to obtain the private sector capital and technology that will allow for the explotiation of the country’s energy resources. We are hoping this will result in a new Scandanavian-model dawn that will bring us cheaper energy and greater revenue for the national coffers while foreign oil companies receive a profitable return on their investments. If the foreign oil companies pollute the environment and make sweetheart deals with corrupt politicians, well, then nothing really will have changed. But if the nefarious foreign capitalists make a fortune off our oil in exchange for increased national oil revenues, updated technology and infrastructure development, then at least the nation will be receiving some benefit from our national resources. At present, all we have is the indignity of being the laughing stock of the Petroleum Workers Union and the political parties as they gorge themselves at the trough that is Pemex.