Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

U.S. Passes the Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement with Mexico

by Shannon K. O'Neil Friday, December 20, 2013
The "Lolair" drilling platform from state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) is seen off the port of Veracruz, Mexico June 7, 2012 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters). The "Lolair" drilling platform from state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) is seen off the port of Veracruz, Mexico June 7, 2012 (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

Tacked onto the bipartisan budget, the U.S. Congress passed the long-awaited Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement with Mexico. Signed in 2012 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, it lays the groundwork for U.S. and Mexican cooperation across some 1.5 million acres of shared oil and natural gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico. The agreement creates guidelines for determining the scope of the deep-water fields and how companies acting on behalf of each country can work together to access these reserves, and creates mechanisms for dispute resolution and for safety and environmental protection. Read more »

Viva las Reformas

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto waves the national flag after he shouted the "Cry of Independence" as Mexico marks the 203rd anniversary of the day rebel priest Manuel Hidalgo set it on the path to independence in Mexico City September 15, 2013 (Tomas Bravo/Courtesy Reuters). Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto waves the national flag after he shouted the "Cry of Independence" as Mexico marks the 203rd anniversary of the day rebel priest Manuel Hidalgo set it on the path to independence in Mexico City September 15, 2013 (Tomas Bravo/Courtesy Reuters).

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration finished off an ambitious first-year reform agenda this past week, pushing historic energy and political reforms through Mexico’s Congress. These reforms—and the earlier labor, education, fiscal, and telecommunication reforms—aim to boost economic growth (which slowed to 1 percent over the past year) and entice foreign investment in once closed-off sectors. Here is a piece that I wrote for the January/February 2014 edition of Foreign Affairs on why, especially given the recent changes, Mexico is a hot market that investors will want to watch. Read more »

Mexico’s Historic Energy Reform

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, December 12, 2013
The logo of Mexican petroleum company Pemex is seen on a tank gas at gas station in Mexico City, November 23, 2012 (Edgard Garrido/Courtesy Reuters). The logo of Mexican petroleum company Pemex is seen on a tank gas at gas station in Mexico City, November 23, 2012 (Edgard Garrido/Courtesy Reuters).

Listening to the fireworks for the Virgen de Guadalupe last night from my hotel room in Mexico City, one could have mistaken them for the tumult occurring at the same time in the House of Representatives. Right before midnight, the representatives passed, by a two-thirds majority, the principles of energy reform (following the Senate’s approval earlier in the day). Read more »