Aug 03, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Popular international media company, Bloomberg, has recently reported that previously unknown public documents reveal that the state owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos’ plans for the erection of the ‘Dos Bacos’ refinery in the state of Tabasco is being built in a zone, which the state, oil firm had promised to protect.
The media house has reported that the massive new oil refinery that is being built in an era focused on renewable energy will cost more than promised and is behind schedule. Furthermore, documents show that in 2006 and 2007 Pemex committed to preserving the area that included a rare mangrove forest in exchange for the right to drill nearby.
The Environment Ministry had granted Pemex permission to develop oil and gas reservoirs for 20 years on the condition that it refrain from building any new infrastructure within a certain vicinity of protected areas that contain rare flora and fauna, the files show. Bloomberg notes that a Pemex sanctioned Environmental Impact Assessment for the project done in 2006 state that the area was home to four types of mangrove, a coastal tree that absorbs more carbon than most trees and protects against flooding, as well as 23 species of protected animals. Additionally, the EIA stated that conserving vegetation on the coastline “should be considered a priority.”
In giving conditional approval to working the reservoirs, the Environment Ministry declared in 2007 that Pemex “will not be allowed to develop projects and activities in areas” containing mangroves and various other types of vegetation. Pemex “must abide by each and every prevention and mitigation measure it proposed in the environmental impact assessment,” and other documents included in the proposal, the ministry wrote. In response, the company promised that all the mangroves would be in a “restricted use zone” where the company wouldn’t build or conduct activities other than maintaining existing installations.
Despite this promise however, the company had since backpedalled on its commitment as Bloomberg has since confirmed via the use of satellite mapping that the refinery sits inside the protected area. Four environmental lawyers, Fernanda Velasco and Adriana Miranda, both of whom worked as government regulators, Daniel Basurto, former coordinator of the Mexican Bar Association’s environment committee, and Gustavo Alanis, director of the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, all agree that the pledge to refrain from developing the land appears to still be in force, when consulted by Bloomberg News on the subject. “Pemex is obliged to comply with these conditions throughout the lifetime” of the 20-year project, said Velasco. Neither Pemex nor the Environment Ministry responded to several requests for comment. The office of the president declined to comment.
A 2008 study by the state-run Mexican Petroleum Institute carried out for Pemex found that Dos Bocas was the worst of seven potential sites considered for a new refinery due to environmental and social reasons, including the presence of mangrove forests and risk of flooding.
In 2019, a third party, found to have illegally cut down mangroves on the Dos Bocas site, was fined by the Security, Energy and Environment Agency (ASEA), a regulatory arm of the environment ministry. Satellite imagery shows mangroves continued to be chopped down after Pemex began building the refinery.
Bloomberg notes that Pemex drew international ire in early July when a gas leak caused a blazing fire at sea in the Gulf of Mexico, though the company said no environmental damage was caused.
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