Mexico City — Miguel Ángel Maciel Torres, a veteran of state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos, has been named the country’s new energy minister by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and who will continue with the president’s energy policy until the end of his six-year term in 2024.
Maciel’s appointment follows the resignation of Rocío Nahle García from the post of energy minister, and who aims to seek the governorship of the Gulf coast, oil-producing state of Veracruz.
AMLO, as the president is known, announced Maciel, who until now had been undersecretary of hydrocarbons at the Energy Ministry (Sener) as the new head of the portfolio, and expressed his “confidence” in Maciel for his “proven convictions in favor of national sovereignty”.
AMLO announced Maciel’s promotion by posting on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Who is Miguel Ángel Maciel?
The profile and vision of the former Pemex employee are less public compared to that of his predecessor, but are aligned with the president’s goals of energy sovereignty with some notable differences. For example, in October 2019, Maciel told the media that the energy ministry was analyzing an oil swap with the United States, if oil production was not of the quality needed to feed Mexican refineries.
He has also shown openness to exporting more crude oil if conditions are favorable for the country.
“It is a matter of reviewing market prices and always evaluating what is convenient: do I refine in Mexico or do I send abroad to refine? I sell oranges and they bring me the juice. It is a matter of a sovereignty decision,” he said during his participation in an oil congress in Veracruz in September 2022.
López Obrador entrusted Nahle with the rehabilitation of Pemex’s six refineries, as well as the construction of a new one, Dos Bocas, which was inaugurated in July 2022 but only started production this year. It has an estimated 290,000 barrels of gasoline and diesel per day of production capacity.
AMLO did not outline what will be Maciel’s priorities in the role, and the ministry did not respond to Bloomberg Línea’s requests for comment.
With 30 years of experience in the subsidiary Pemex Exploration and Production, Maciel is aware that the energy transition will reach Mexico in the medium and long term.
He estimates that by 2034 oil production will remain at two million barrels per day, as more intermittent renewable energy with storage begins to be used, and predicts that by 2050 national production will fall to 500,000 barrels per day.
“By 2050, we expect 85% of energy to come from renewables and 15% from non-renewables,” he added.
Maciel mentioned that in the face of geopolitical conflicts around the world, multiple countries are taking advantage of the resources they have at hand, such as Germany with coal, or France in the use of nuclear reactors. In the case of Mexico, natural gas will be the “transition fluid”.
Natural gas storage
Mexico is a net importer of natural gas, a fuel that it uses to generate almost 60% of its electricity, and which it purchases mostly from the United States. In view of this situation, Maciel reported that there are nine depleted fields that are ideal for storing natural gas, as Mexico lacks storage capacity beyond what it moves through pipelines.
As administrator and manager of Pemex oil projects such as Burgos and Lakach, Maciel has also spoken about the reactivation of the Burgos basin, where “it is worthwhile” to make an economic analysis on whether it is better to exploit its gas, store it in depleted fields such as in Brazil, or continue buying it in the United States through state utility CFE.
“We will have to see if it is better to store it in Brazil as step one, and as step two to continue exploiting fields,” he stated in 2022.