Mexico has the sixth largest reserve of recoverable shale gas in the world, estimated at 600 trillion cubic feet. It also is suspected to have the 8th largest recoverable shale oil reserve of up to 13 billion barrels (2). An energy reform undertaken in 2013 now allows for private investment in Mexico’s oil and gas reserves. Mexican environmentalists and even some politicians have openly expressed anti-fracking sentiment, with concerns centred on depletion of already-scarce water, aquifer contamination, use of toxic chemicals, toxic waste, and earthquakes (2, 3).
There exists a great deal of concern surrounding fracking in Mexico’s shale gas basins due to the high levels of overlap with water-stressed regions, including the over-exploited Gulf Coastal Plain Aquifer, threats to natural protected areas, and high levels of seismic activity in shale gas areas under production that some experts warn is due to fracking activities there (1, 3). The Mexican Alliance Against Fracking formed in 2013, and brought together a broad range of groups in opposition to fracking in Mexico (1).
In Coahuila foreign and national companies hope to drill up to 10,000 fracking wells in the regions of Carbonífera and Cinco Manatiales. Each well will require between 9-29 million litres of water (4). A state advisory council on sustainable development in the state has claimed that some exploratory fracking wells in Mexico are operating without the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). There are six wells in particular in northern Coahuila, which seem to have been drilled in different locations than those approved by the permits. The EIA also only approved conventional drilling which does not allow for fracking. Fundar, the Mexican Center for Analysis and Research, claims that the Mexican Environmental Ministry’s approval is needed for any and all hydrocarbon projects. The Pemex-controlled wells cited in Coahuila do not have an EIA. Two organizations, the Alliance Against Fracking and the environmental litigation organization CEMDA, have begun the process of taking legal action against these wells due to the claimed lack of permission granted (1).
Activists in Coahuila have also mobilized against the dispossession of land by foreign and national companies that plan to drill more than 10 thousand wells for fracking. They have expressed disapproval of Mexico’s energy reform laws. In October, activists in Saltillo demanded that the Coahuila state government suspend all activities related to fracking (6). Then, in early November 2014 in Saltillo, members of ‘Coahuilenses contra el Fracking’ (Coahuilians against fracking) protested in front of the Autonomous University of Coahuila where the first Energy Expo forum was taking place and where federal and state authorities were present along with the hydrocarbon extraction private sector. Those from San Buenaventura denounced the dispossession of their land by GPA Energy for their exploratory gas projects.
The protestors blocked part of the federal highway 57 (México-Saltillo) for an hour (4). Ex-federal deputy Gerardo Fernández Noroña also called for mobilization against fracking, claiming that it exacerbates poverty and inequality. He pointed out that the ex-director of Pemex spent time in jail for acts of corruption in Coahuila (5).
Currently, many anti-fracking forces are now pushing for Congress to pass a moratorium or ban of fracking in the country (2).