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Pemex Pollution Continues to Increase

MEXICO CITY, Mexico

The amount of air pollution, wastewater discharges, hydrocarbon spills and dangerous waste generated by Mexico's state-owned oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), has increased in the first quarter of this year, according to a report Pemex delivered to the country's Congress last week.

The report said polluted water discharges had increased by 20.3 percent, largely due to discharges in the Dos Bocas Marine Terminal and the Re-pumping Operating Complex in the northeastern marine region.

Pemex said the number of leaks in its transport and collection pipelines had decreased by 45 percent, but the volume of hydrocarbon spills increased by 464 percent, from 253 barrels in the first quarter of 2013 to 1,174 in the same period this year. A single incident, in the Nuevo Teapa-Salina Cruz pipeline, resulted in 1,069 barrels of oil being spilled.

The principal cause of the leaks is internal corrosion of pipelines, Pemex said.

In terms of air pollution, sulfur oxide and carbon dioxide emissions increased by 42.5 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively, compared to the first quarter 2013. This was principally due to gas burning in the northeast marine region, the Cantarell field and the Ku-Maloob-Zaap field, the company said.

According to the report, Pemex’s inventory of dangerous waste increased 7.9 percent during the first quarter of the year, reaching 34,100 tons. The company said 74 percent of this came from refining activities. Nearly 93 percent of the total waste was spent caustics.

Pemex’s environmental liabilities currently include 1,023 hectares of land contaminated, three more hectares than at the close of 2013.

In its 2013 annual report, presented in March, the oil company said sulfur oxide and carbon dioxide emissions increased by 16.5 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, compared to 2012, while contaminated water discharges increased by 24 percent.

On June 2nd, Pemex, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) signed a collaboration framework agreement that aims to make the company more sustainable.

At the signing of the agreement, Pemex Corporate Director of Operations Carlos Murrieta said his company aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent and its generation of dangerous waste by 37 percent by 2019.

Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection Guillermo Haro Bélchez said Pemex was making advances in adhering to the National Environmental Audit Program (PNAA), but that work was still needed in this area. He said Profepa was working to establish public policy to clean up contaminated sites, and Pemex was trying to carry out the actions necessary to get PNAA environmental certification. The company would also seek better emergency response coordination, he said.

The federal government recently announced an allocation of $20 million USD to co-finance projects to reduce greenhouse gases with the Global Environment Facility.

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