MEXICO CITY (Reuters) — Mexico’s president asked consumers on Thursday to use less electricity in the evenings as a measure to help overcome shortages of natural gas from Texas, which is seeking to ban exports of the fuel during freezing weather.
Mexico generates the majority of its power from natural gas, mostly imported from the United States. Latin America’s second-largest economy has reeled as imports via pipeline from Texas dropped by about 75% over the last week, causing billions of dollars of losses on power outages and factory closures.
The Mexican peso weakened as much as 1.32% on Thursday, leading losses across Latin American currencies in what analysts said reflected concerns about the economy. One forecaster warned the shortages could dent Mexico’s fragile recovery from pandemic restrictions.
«I call on all Mexicans to help us by consuming less,» President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, suggesting people switch off extra lightbulbs during the peak evening hours.
«To be totally sure that our electricity system is maintained and that we don’t suffer from blackouts.»
On Wednesday, Texas governor Greg Abbott said no natural gas should be supplied out of the state before Feb. 21 as it struggles to provide power during a rare cold snap, although it was unclear if he would be able to enforce the ban.
Lopez Obrador said Mexico’s foreign ministry was making diplomatic efforts to stop the ban, but said Mexico was not retaliating against Texas, which in 2020 exported goods worth some US$89 billion to its neighbour.
«I want to make this clear, there is no reprisal, this is a difficult circumstance for them, and they think that by closing they protect Texas,» he said.
Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said on Thursday she had spoken to Roberta Jacobson, an aide to President Joe Biden, to seek «immediate solutions,» the day after contacting the top U.S. representative in Mexico with concerns over the impact to the economy.
Jose Luis de la Cruz, director of the Institute for Industrial Development and Economic Growth (IDIC), forecast that the work stoppages from the supply shortfall would erase one percentage point from Mexico’s gross domestic product in the first quarter this year.
«The whole north is stopped,» he said.
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