Dos Bocas Refinery Subject to Backlash from Environmentalists
Mexico’s Olmeca refinery has been criticized by environmental activists who allege the project has uprooted rare mangrove trees in the area.
According to a report published by Quartz, the project was constructed at the cost of mangroves, a tree helpful in the fight against climate change since they can process three to five times more carbon dioxide than any other flora in the area.
Despite a warning from ASEA, the construction led to the uprooting of the trees to create vehicular access, leaving the area susceptible to flooding.
In January 2023, Rocio Nahle, Mexico’s Minister of Energy, stated that PEMEX’s newest refinery will be fully equipped for crude oil production after its formal inauguration in July of 2023. Situated in the northeastern region of the country, the Olmeca refinery in Dos Bocas has long been promoted as the answer to Mexico’s economic woes and stands as the centerpiece of López Obrador’s plan to restore PEMEX as the lever for national development.
Once completed, it will be self-reliant in providing diesel and gasoline and shall help PEMEX increase its oil-processing capacity by 20 percent with a target of 340Mb/d of heavy crude oil to be processed by the end of López Obrador’s six-year term in 2024. The refinery will be the eighth refinery operated by PEMEX: the NOC operates six refineries on Mexican soil and recently acquired Deer Park in Texas.
Although the refinery was supposed to launch in early 2022, its primary delay was due to budget restrictions. The government initially allotted funding of US$8 Billion for construction and other infrastructure but the cost has nearly doubled since then, reported sources close to the development.
However, the refinery has garnered major backlash beyond its high costs: many have questioned Mexico’s strategy to rely on refining, given the urgent need to address climate change and switch to renewable sources of energy. According to Brookings, Mexico’s idea of economic development is based on the utilization of fossil fuel, as President López Obrador sees oil as the driver of progress. However, this ideology is inconsistent with international climate commitments the country signed.