Living with Oil
Promises, Peaks, and Declines on Mexico’s Gulf Coast
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Texas Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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Cantarell, the world’s largest offshore oilfi eld, lies underneath the warm, shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico. From the very first drops of crude drawn from Cantarell in 1979, it was clear that the field would exceed not only the expectations of the state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) but the wildest dreams of the Mexican state. The ...
Part 1. Peaks and Declines
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In July 2009 Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, marked the thirtieth anniversary of Mexico’s success in offshore oil drilling. Officials used the anniversary to launch more than a week of memorial activities including an orchestral concert, food festival, and artisanry fair. The celebration culminated in speeches by Pemex Director General Jesús Reyes Heroles...
1. The Mexican Oil Crisis
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In an oft-quoted and very memorable line of his 2006 State of the Union speech, George W. Bush proclaimed, “America is addicted to oil . . . which is often imported from unstable parts of world.” Bush’s comment struck a chord for an energy-dependent America at the height of the Iraq war. As a nation, the United States was consuming more than...
2. Natural Resources in the Laguna de Términos: Piracy and Profit
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Peaks and declines are a part of everyday life on the shores of Mexico’s Gulf coast, shaped by centuries of natural resource exploitation. The oil industry represents only the most recent in a nearly half-millennium of endlessly repeating cycles of natural resource extraction in the Laguna de Términos. Local residents are all too familiar with the production...
Part 2. The Pesquera and the Petrolera
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From the smallest towns to the largest cities across Mexico, the annual celebration of a community’s patron saint’s feast day is a greatly anticipated and much-lauded event. In Ciudad del Carmen, the veneration of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, the Virgen del Carmen, is no exception. The patron saint’s feast stretches across several days each summer ...
3. The Peak and Decline of Fishing in the Laguna de Términos
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The rich and varied resources of the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the vast, shallow Laguna de Términos have served the residents of Isla Aguada through thick and thin for generations. “Aquí, todos viven de la pesca” (Here, everyone lives off fi shing), one native Aguadeño explained to me; even those residents who appeared to earn their income...
4. Capturing Compensation: Resource Wealth in the Era of Decline
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“The only benefi t that the discovery of oil brought to Isla Aguada is a few jobs for people out there on the platforms, just a couple of them in Pemex. That’s all, nothing more,” said Don Ysidro quite bitterly. A fi sher in his seventies known in the community as El Pichón, he has seen the community struggle through peaks and declines throughout...
Part 3. Post-Peak Politics: Energy Reform and the Race to Claim the Gulf of Mexico
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July 2008. Walking the littered and pot-holed streets of Isla Aguada as the sun went down and residents stirred from late-afternoon torpor into early evening activity, I could hear the hum and occasional blare of televisions from the open windows and doors. Without fail, I would catch a snippet of a government-sponsored advertisement in support of the...
5. “No to Privatization”: A Battle for Energy Independence
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The summer of 2008 was a watershed moment for the global political economy of energy. A spike in prices driven by market speculation sparked an unprecedented oil price bubble across the global marketplace. Oil prices climbed to $147 per barrel. Surely the world’s sixth-largest oil producer stood to benefit from the price spike, perhaps by as much as ...
6. Energy Security on the U.S.-Mexican Maritime Border: Transboundary Oil in the Deepwater Gulf
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In May 2010 Mexican President Felipe Calderón paid an official state visit to Barack Obama at the White House. Calderón’s visit occurred during the immediate fallout of an unpopular Arizona immigration bill, SB1070, a law intensifying the criminalization of undocumented migration in the U.S.-Mexican border region. In their opening public ...
Conclusion: Post-Peak Futures
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Cantarell was born out of apocalypse, its rich oil deposits left in the destructive aftermath of an asteroid hitting the Yucatán Peninsula 65 million years ago. The ancient impact event caused an “armageddon”—setting off wildfires and tsunamis, darkening skies with soot and ash, and causing storms of acid rain. It was enough to kill off the dinosaurs, explains...
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Page Count: 325
Illustrations: 5 b&w photos, 8 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013