Wild cats and boats are an impediment to the Mexican President's refinery competition
A race between Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to build a record-breaking oil refinery on land that was only recently alive with mangroves, wild cats and boa-constructs has run into trouble, making it difficult to revive the country's struggling oil company, Pemex.
Even before Lopez Obrador took office in December last year, protected woodlands off the coast of Tabasco, in the Pemex country, had been cut to make room for a new refinery next to Dos Bocas harbor.
The oil industry's environmental regulator, ASEA, ruled in January that the contractor who felled the land did not have the correct permits. The body demanded a fine of about $ 700,000. According to ASEA, the refinery can only continue to operate once a full environmental impact assessment has been completed and approved.
It could delay the refinery project for months or even years, just as the government is trying to increase oil production by giving the state a bigger role in the industry, modernizing the refineries and building a new home in Tabasco, Lopez Obrador.
Gustavo Alanis, president of the Mexican Environmental Law Advocacy Center, said Pemex will have legal problems if it continues to hurry over the proposed Dos Bocas refinery.
The government said it plans to bid for a $ 8 billion refinery in March and will complete it in three years. Pemex did not respond to requests for comment on this article.
The land near Paraiso, where the new refinery is to be built, was planted in the 1970s with coconut and citrus fruits and expropriated by Pemex. But the company never used the landscape and tropical forest land and wildlife took over.
In Paraiso, the government commission for biodiversity in Paraiso identified several types of woodpeckers, geese and hawks, two iguanas and other reptiles, protected amphibians, endangered snakes and pipelines, which are in danger of extinction. .
The land was so rich in wildlife about a decade ago that leaders of the Pemex group proposed to declare it a private nature reserve to prevent future construction there, company sources said. A study by the Government Institute several years ago showed that Paraiso was a dangerous site for the refinery because of the biodiversity it contains.
However, from satellite images taken in November and taken from Conabio, the wide mangrove belt is broadly cut across the landscape, leaving a smaller forest circumference.
By the time Lopez Obrador came to Dos Bocas in December to announce a new refinery, the muddy soil and heavy construction had replaced the site's thick wood.
After land clearance, four endangered or protected species were rescued, including a pig type, a boa constrictor and a rare iguana. Reuters was unable to determine the fate of other animals identified by the agency locally.
Oyster fishermen in Paraiso fear that the refinery could damage the Mecoacan Lagoon just a few miles from the refinery and their main source of livelihood for many generations.
"What we want is for them not to damage the lagoon," said Manuel de la Cruz, a local fisherman who has been working on the waterway for eight years. He said he sent a document in December to Lopez Obrador saying fishermen wanted more than just government support for "scrap."
Lopez Obrador has not commented on the ASEA's January decision on land clearance. The environmental regulator also ordered in its regulation the replanting of a larger mangrove area, the location of which has not yet been determined, and the launch of a wildlife conservation program.
Mexico's energy minister Rocio Nahle initially said that the mangroves were not touched on Paraiso Square. He said that in November, the municipal and state governments had given permission to clean up the landscape.
The rating agencies say Lopez Obrador's plans for a major overhaul of Pemex will put a new strain on already troubled finances. Rating agency Fitch says Pemex is "insolvent".