HARLINGEN — Driven by industrial and power sector demand, the Mexican government is moving to deregulate its energy industry, providing new openings for U.S. gasoline, natural gas and other fuels.

Walker Smith, director of the Port of Harlingen, said the move to deregulate its energy sector could make the Port of Harlingen a much bigger player when it comes to unloading oil, diesel, propane and similar products from barges and putting them into rail or truck tankers for transport across the border.

Mexico’s state petroleum industry, Pemex, can’t keep up with the increasing demand, Smith said.

“I’m getting calls constantly about companies wanting to come into the Port of Harlingen because of where we’re situated and to take advantage of the Los Indios bridge crossing,” he said. Delays there are far shorter than at other border bridge crossings like Reynosa’s.

Smith, speaking before the Harlingen Economic Development Corp. earlier this month, said U.S. companies are prepared to move aggressively to capture a portion of the opening energy market in Mexico.