December 1, 2002
Deep beneath the Burgos Basin, an arid, slipper-shaped coastal plain in northeastern Mexico, lie untold quantities of natural gas. Geologists are certain the basin holds at least two trillion cubic feet of gas. It could contain 20 times that.
This massive gasfield has become a critical element in Mexico's bid to meet growing demand for electricity, generated by gas-fired power stations. But the basin's deposits are expensive to extract. Years of haphazard drilling by the national oil company Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, have damaged the gasfield. It skimmed off reserves that lay near the surface but ran into difficulties developing gas trapped deeper underground.
Pemex, Mexico's national energy company, earns billions of dollars a year. But that prodigious wealth is vanishing
because the government has failed to feed its exploration