Hurd: Moving closer toward North American energy security
We took a significant step toward North American energy security two weeks ago. The United States, Mexico and Canada are three of the top 10 petroleum-producing countries in the world - producing over 20 million barrels per day on average last year. In addition, Mexico and Canada together supplied 46 percent of the United States' crude oil imports in 2014. It only makes sense for us to strengthen our energy relationship in North America by approving an oil swap with Mexico that would allow us to export crude oil for the first time in 40 years.
As a former CIA operative, I have seen first-hand that not every nation we buy energy from has America's best interest in mind. Strengthening our position so that countries can purchase their energy from us and not our adversaries moves us a step closer to a very important goal - North American energy security.
In May, I worked with my Democratic colleague from Texas, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, to build a bipartisan coalition of Texas congressmen who were willing to work together on an issue we knew would help not only our state but the rest of the nation. We sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker encouraging the department to approve the crude oil swap request from PEMEX, Mexico's state-owned energy company. Under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, the Commerce Department is authorized to allow the kind of swaps that PEMEX requested if it is determined to be in our nation's best interest. Our bipartisan letter to Secretary Pritzker outlined these interests and urged her to act quickly. Though quickly may be a relative term regarding the grinding gears of Washington, I was thrilled nonetheless to receive news last week that this trade between the U.S. and Mexico had been approved.
Innovation by American energy companies has led to a glut of the lighter forms of crude oil found in U.S. shale basins such as Eagle Ford, Barnett and Permian Basin. And while most of the U.S. refineries are designed to handle heavy crude, the refineries in Mexico are hungry for our light oil. The request made by PEMEX to swap oil was really just common sense. Unfortunately, a nearly four-decade-old ban on selling U.S. crude overseas was in the way. Restrictive measures in Mexico had also hindered energy trade between our nations, but recent reforms created a unique opportunity that could not be ignored.
This approval guarantees an expanded market for American energy and is a substantial victory for American energy producers and their workers. Considering the importance of the oil and gas industry to our state, Texas should see an out-sized impact. Canada and Mexico are already two of the United States' top-three trading partners. Further expanding this relationship to the energy sector, places North America's already extensive trade relationship near the top of the global market.