Blackouts, Energy Crisis Spans Border Into Mexico

Mexico and Texas are working out ways to deliver power to their citizens in response to the winter weather

President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged Mexicans on Thursday to conserve electricity as rolling blackouts in the north and central parts of the country continued following problems caused by bitterly cold weather in the United States.

The cold snap had interrupted the flow of natural gas from Texas to power plants in northern Mexico.

"From 6 p.m. to 11 (p.m.) help us by consuming less, all Mexicans, the problem is already practically resolved, but we're going to all help have reserves... and we're not going to endure blackouts," Lopez Obrador said.

He said Mexico was working diplomatic channels to head off an order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for gas suppliers in that state to not ship any out of state until Feb. 21. It was not immediately clear if Abbott had the legal standing for such an order.

The winter weather in Texas left many in that state without power, but also extended to northern Mexico where nearly 5 million were left in the dark Monday. In 2020, 27% of Texas' gas exports came to Mexico, according to Mexico's Economy Ministry.

On Wednesday, Mexico's deputy commerce secretary Luz Maria de la Mora, said via Twitter that Mexico understands the emergency situation in Texas, but "we don't consider the resolution announced by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott the only option, (because) it would irremediably affect the economies of Mexico and the U.S."

The outages have led to major economic losses as assembly plants in the north have had to suspend work.

Manuel Reyes, the director of energy at Mexico's national power company CFE, said Thursday that Texas had faced an unprecedented demand, failure of power from some renewable energy sources, frozen gas pipelines and an exponential increase in the price of natural gas. Texas and Mexico responded with emergency declarations.

The blackouts have continued for three days, but the government says they could be resolved by efforts to find additional energy sources, from oil, coal, nuclear, hydroelectric and two tankers expected to arrive at Mexican ports Thursday with natural gas.

Lopez Obrador used the crisis as an opportunity to repeat his call for strengthening the state-owned power and oil companies. "The country's public companies must be strengthened and given priority," he said.

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