Geopolitics was the main item on the agenda at Energy Mexico 2018’s oil and gas related conferences at (location) this week. Among the topics were President Trump, NAFTA, North American energy integration, shale oil, OPEC production cutting agreements and their underlying effect on prices. The event was presided over by Jesús Reyes Heroles, former CEO of PEMEX and President of consultancy firm EnergeA and Herman Franssen, Executive Director of the Energy Intelligence Group.

Among the speakers at the event organized under Chatham House Rules were the Minister of Energy, Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, OPEC Research Director, Ayed al Qathani, the Director of Energy Markets and Security of the IEA, Keisuke Sadamori and various top-tier PEMEX directors including new CEO Carlos Treviño. Local topics included natural gas pipelines and Mexico’s decaying refining infrastructure and Mexico’s offshore potential, but the lion’s share of the conferences centered upon the oil prices and geopolitics
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Oil prices were expected to be determined by the equilibrium of a moderate worldwide economic upturn, the OPEC production cutting agreement and the ramping up of North American shale production. Various geopolitical factors such as internal problems of Venezuela and other OPEC members, as well as potential disruptions of supply due to armed conflict could cloud this picture according to speakers – North Korea being considered a particularly volatile flashpoint.

A picture of North America as the world’s leading oil producer emerged as conferences discussed both the interwoven energy networks spanning the continent and particularly Mexico’s uncapitalized potential.

In stark contrast to the discussion on Mexico’s declining refining sector and dependence on highly competitive US refineries to make up the shortfall were speeches regarding the unexplored crude oil potential of the Mexican side of the Gulf of Mexico with figures of up to 20 billion unfound boe being mentioned.

Experts discussed what they called “the age of uncertainty”, noting the failure of expert opinion to predict the shale boom or the financial crash of 2008. Nor could the experts agree on the fate of NAFTA as Mexico heads for its 2018 elections and the US for midterms.

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