COVID-19 update. Deputy Minister of Health Hugo López-Gatell said Mexico began the week with an 8 percent decrease in COVID-19 cases, even though the highly contagious omicron variant has led to fourth and fifth waves of the virus worldwide. Hospitalizations have also declined, according to López-Gatell. Only 11 percent of hospital beds destined for the care of COVID-19 patients are currently occupied.
López-Gatell said that a fourth wave of COVID-19, although still highly possible, is not expected to result in increased hospitalizations in Mexico as the omicron variant, while more contagious than previous mutations, has resulted in fewer hospitalizations than in previous waves. He added that the COVID-19 vaccination booster shot will next be offered to those working in education and will begin early in 2022. When asked about vaccinating children, López-Gatell highlighted that the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet approved a vaccine for minors. In light of that, Mexico would not yet begin a vaccination campaign for youth below 15 years of age. “The WHO has repeatedly insisted that we have a global problem with inequality in the distribution of vaccines and has called for the prioritization of adults in countries with low vaccination rates following the logic of public health,” López-Gatell said.
PEMEX plans. PEMEX Director General Octavio Romero Oropeza presented plans for the next two years, in which the company hopes to prevent prices of combustibles from rising in real terms. This will be achieved through operations at the Dos Bocas refinery, which the company expects will make up for the decline in reserves since 2012 and result in 100 percent of Mexican crude oil being refined in Mexico to “guarantee the gasoline supply.”
Romero also announced that PEMEX would resume its natural gas exploitation in Campo Lakach. The project has been suspended since 2016. The goal is to contribute further to Mexico’s target to achieve energy self-sufficiency. The drilling of eight wells began in 2006, looking to recover 938 billion square feet of gas.
Refinery personnel. Energy Minister Rocio Nahle announced that due to a labor shortage related to refinery operations, the Mexican Petroleum Institute is in the process of capacitating 600 chemical, mechanical and electrical engineers for the National Refinery System. Some of them will join the efforts at Dos Bocas, Nahle said.