Although there are enormous potential benefits for Mexico's energy sector in the future, there are also important challenges the country must overcome to fully realize its energy potential. One of them has to do with the land ownership and land use regime in Mexico. As the legislative debate on the new Ley de Petróleos and the Ley de la Comisión Federal de Electricidad (Petroleum Act and Federal Electric Utility Act) proceeded in the summer of 2014, the Mexican Congress anticipated potential land-related conflicts associated with exploration and production activities related to hydrocarbons and new energy-related infrastructure projects. These potential conflicts stem from the fact that all of these projects will necessarily require the right of way to access and work on the resources in the subsoil of privately owned as well as on so-called “socially owned” lands in regions targeted for energy development. Thus, the Mexican Congress sought to avoid land-related conflicts by including language related to land ownership and use in the new energy legislation. The legislation, however, may not be able to prevent such conflicts.
By Tony Payan, Ph.D., Françoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies, Rice University’s Baker Institute
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Government Department, University of Texas at Brownsville