Last week’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada trilateral summit resulted in a communique that among other things called for increased energy cooperation on the continent. In an email interview, Jed Bailey, managing partner of Energy Narrative, a research and consulting group focusing on Latin America’s energy sector, explained the recent history of and next steps for North American energy integration.
WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of energy integration in North America?
Jed Bailey: Energy integration across North America has steadily strengthened for several decades as cross-border trade has grown in electric power and natural gas as well as oil and oil products. Specific events in each country over the past 10 years have also helped boost regional integration. First, the development of Canada’s oil sands has greatly increased that country’s oil production, much of which is exported to the United States. Next, the U.S. shale revolution has increased U.S. oil and natural gas production, reducing reliance on seaborne imports from outside North America and supporting the growth of natural gas exports to Mexico. The technology and know-how to exploit the U.S. shale oil and gas resources can also be applied to the sizable resources in Canada and Mexico. Finally, Mexico is now implementing a sweeping energy reform that was passed late last year. The reform is the most dramatic change in Mexico’s energy sector in decades and has the potential to significantly increase cross-border energy investment from its northern neighbors.