Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The state economy for Texas is capitalizing on cross-border movements of natural gas to Mexico, a director at a state energy regulator said.
Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos served as the moderator of a bilateral energy forum that counted members of a Mexican energy trade association and Mexico Energy Regulatory Commissioner Guillermo Garcia Alcocer among its panelists.
The panel came one month after Mexico's government held its first auction to access capacity to natural gas infrastructure as part of the country's sweeping energy reforms. Those reforms could bring in up to $415 billion in investments over the next 20 years as the country establishes links to the rest of the world.
Ryan Sitton with the Texas Railroad Commission, the state's energy regulator, said high U.S. natural gas production and Mexican energy sector reforms were opening economic doors.
"Right now, Mexico imports 60 percent of its natural gas from the U.S., most of which comes from Texas," he said in a statement. "By 2019, U.S. natural gas exports to Mexico will double, and that means more money for our schools, roads, hospitals and economy."
Sitton's comments come as U.S. President Donald Trump worked to renegotiate the terms of the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the "new NAFTA" would ensure his country doesn't face unfair subsidies or market-distorting practices by state-owned enterprises.
The Mexican energy reform program is meant to open the country up to outside oil investment for the first time since 1938, when the Mexican government took control of the country's oil industry and sidelined foreign investments. State-controlled Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, had a monopoly over the sector before reforms were initiated in 2014.