One result of the event was an agreement between Texas A&M International University and five Mexican universities that is meant to promote education and research geared toward sparking innovation in the international oil and gas industry.
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar served as an honorary witness during the signing of an agreement between TAMIU; Universidad Autónoma Nacional de México; Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila and Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas.
The agreement includes exchange programs between the universities’ students, faculty and academic material, TAMIU officials said.
The roundtable on Friday included nearly 35 U.S. and Mexican officials representing the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy; the Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources; the Texas Railroad Commission; the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and other organizations and private companies related to the energy industry.
It also included officials from Mexico such as Ambassador Alejandro Estivill, the deputy chief of Mission of the Embassy of Mexico to the U.S.; Gustavo Hernández García, the national operations director for exploration and production of PEMEX; and Daniel Enrique Guerrero Rodríguez, national director of natural gas and petrochemicals for the Mexican Secretary of Energy.
Cuellar called Friday’s event "historic," saying Mexico’s’ energy reform could allow U.S. energy companies to invest and collaborate with their Mexican counterparts, which could lead to discovering better ways of providing energy to the world.
Meanwhile, university students and faculty could share ideas on potential industry innovations and how to improve the energy sector on both sides of the border, he said.
The roundtable and agreement come at a time when the local oil and gas industry is seeing a downturn.
Workforce Solutions for South Texas reported last month that the mining, logging, and construction sector cut jobs in August, reducing payrolls by some 100 jobs mostly due to a slowdown in regional oil and gas production.
"Oil and gas are commodities," said Paula Gant, deputy assistant secretary for oil and natural gas for the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy.
"Their prices will fluctuate, but ... what will endure is the need for oil and gas over the coming decades.
There is an imperative here for us to continue to engage in these long-term planning conversations ... We’re going to need (oil and gas) to fuel our economies and stability in those economies."
She said the roundtable and agreements like the one the universities signed Friday are helping the two countries move forward in the energy business.
According to a previous report from The New York Times, Mexican officials announced in August that the country would invite foreign investors to help develop the future of the country’s oil and gas industry.
Though most of the country’s production will remain with the state-owned oil monopoly Pemex, private investors could bid on a significant percentage of the prospective reserves, whose development will require deep expertise and substantial financing, The New York Times said.
Private investment in Mexico’s oil business had previously been banned when the industry was nationalized in 1938 and foreign companies in the industry were seized.
(Kendra Ablaza can be reached at 728-2538 or firstname.lastname@example.org)