Mexico oil sector accidents raise doubts about deep water exploration

6/19/2017 Reuters

Oil Rig 2 by Flickr user tsuda Photo by Flickr user tsudaAs Mexico opens its energy market to more private investment, the country’s drive to exploit untapped deepwater oil riches has raised safety concerns due to mounting accidents that have blotted the country’s safety record.

The biggest Mexican oil refinery Salina Cruz has been offline since a fire broke out at the coastal facility on Wednesday following a tropical storm, the latest in a string of mishaps.

Violent summer storms have visited Mexico for years, but the country has very little experience in deep water drilling, a risky activity still marked by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon well blow out in the northern Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and pumped 5 million barrels of oil into the sea. That disaster prompted a rethink of safety measures in the United States.

As a result, U.S. operators now have on permanent standby a so-called capping stack that ultimately sealed the well, while third-party inspectors verify deepwater project safety.

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Mexico Protects Ancient Temple While Hotel Is Built Above

6/7/2017 New York Times

582px-Aztec_Warriors_(Florentine_Codex)MEXICO CITY — Plans to expand a hotel in Mexico City have been put on hold after archaeologists unearthed a 1400s-era temple to the Aztec wind god Ehecatl and a ceremonial ball court under the property.

The find could spark nightmares for any squeamish hotel guests: The carefully severed neck bones of 32 people were found in a ceremonial pit next to the ball court.

The find announced Wednesday by archaeologist Eduardo Matos was made in excavations done in 2009-2016. Matos, of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, noted that the hotel owns the property and will be allowed to build above the ruins once the dig is completed.

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Mexico, DiCaprio and Carlos Slim craft plan to save endangered porpoise

6/7/2017 Reuters

Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto gives an indigenous Huichol art representing a Vaquita porpoise to actor Leonardo DiCaprio, at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, in this undated handout photo released to Reuters by the Mexican Presidency on June 7, 2017. Mexico Presidency/Handout via REUTERS

The Mexican government, tycoon Carlos Slim and U.S. actor Leonardo DiCaprio on Wednesday unveiled a joint plan to protect a tiny porpoise in the Gulf of California that has become a potent symbol of critically endangered animal species.

Populations of the snub-nosed vaquita porpoise have plummeted due to gillnet fishing for shrimp and totoaba, a popular delicacy in Asia, sparking increasing calls for action.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto met Hollywood star DiCaprio and Slim in his official residence in Mexico City to sign a memorandum of understanding committing to conserve marine life in the Gulf of California, including the vaquita.

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Tycoon Carlos Slim’s Company Wants To Replace Mexico City’s Air Polluting Taxis With Electric Cars

6/5/2017 Forbes

Mexico-pollutionIn the midst of one of Mexico City’s worst air pollution crises in recent years, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu’s Giant Motors said it wants the prototype electric car it has been developing to replace pollution-belching cabs in the Western Hemisphere’s second largest metropolitan area.

“We’re developing the prototypes and hope to finish them this year to find a viable solution, an electric vehicle, that genuinely replaces gasoline-using cars,” Elias Massri, Giant Motors CEO for Latin America, told Reuters.

In February, Massir announced for the first time that Giant Motors, which is controlled by Slim’s financial services conglomerate Inbursa, was in the process of manufacturing a made-in-Mexico electric vehicle with plans to launch it commercially next year. Designed by Giant Motors, the vehicle will be manufactured in a joint venture with Moldex, a subsidiary of Grupo Bimbo, a Mexico-based multinational and the world’s largest bread maker.

“The peculiar challenge with taxis in Mexico City is that they often ride around with no passengers, looking for a fare,” said Massri. That means the electric taxis need to have fast-charging batteries that can last, he added, according to Reuters.

Slowing Climate Change ‘a Moral Imperative,’ Says Mexico

6/1/2017 New York Times

pena nieto wefMEXICO CITY — Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday said his country was still fully committed to the Paris climate treaty, after U.S. President Donald Trump said the world’s No. 1 economy will pull out of the global pact to tackle climate change.

In a statement shortly after the Mexican president’s tweet, Mexico’s foreign and environmental ministries issued a joint statement, saying climate change is an “incontrovertible” fact that requires cooperation from all nations.

“Actions to put the brakes on climate change are a moral imperative,” the statement said.

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Tropical Storm Beatriz nears Mexico’s Pacific coast, kills two

6/1/2017 Reuters

hurricaneTropical Storm Beatriz approached Mexico’s Pacific coast on Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, dumping heavy rains that resulted in at least two deaths, caused landslides and forced road closures and flight cancellations.

The emergency services in the southwestern state of Oaxaca said a landslide in the village of San Marcial Ozolotepec buried some houses and rescuers had found one dead boy, while one more was missing. Another woman was killed by a landslide in the village of San Carlos Yautepec, the emergency services added.

The NHC said the storm was about 15 miles (24 km) south of the town of Puerto Angel, on Mexico’s southwestern Pacific coast, blowing maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (72 kmh). The storm was moving northeast at 5 miles per hour, the NHC added.

Beatriz was expected to weaken once it hit land in southwestern Mexico on Thursday evening, the NHC added, and peter out over the mountainous region on Friday. Nonetheless, the NHC also expected it to produce “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.”

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Mexico Extends Gillnet Ban to Help Save Endangered Porpoise

5/31/2017 New York Times

Vaquita4_Olson_NOAAMEXICO CITY — Mexico’s agriculture and fisheries department says it is extending a ban on gillnets in much of the upper Gulf of California as part of an effort to save the endangered vaquita porpoise.

A Wednesday statement from the department says it will continue to provide monetary and other support for fishermen affected by the measure.

Despite Mexico’s campaign to help the porpoise species, estimates of remaining vaquitas have dropped below 30.

Vaquitas are often caught in nets illegally set to catch totoaba fish, whose swim bladder is prized in China.

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