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Gas flaring in Mexico reached all-time high levels in 2021, beating the previous record from a year earlier, despite pledges from Mexican authorities to reduce the flaring activity, which is a major source of greenhouse gas pollution, scientists found in new research shared with Reuters.
“Flaring peaked in early 2021 but remained high enough throughout the year to beat 2020, which was already a record high,” Tamara Sparks, a researcher at the Earth Observation Group of the Colorado School of Mines, told Reuters exclusively.
The Earth Observation Group has analyzed NASA satellite images of flare sites in Mexico. It found that not only the intensity but the number of flaring sites also increased—up to 181 in 2021 from 170 sites in 2020, Sparks told Reuters.
According to The Organization for World Peace, the rising number of gas flares was mostly the result of flaring by Mexico’s state-controlled oil giant Pemex, the world’s most indebted company.
Mexico signed in 2015 a pledge to join the global initiative to end gas flaring by 2030. Yet, the data reported by Reuters suggests that the country, especially after leftist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office three years ago, is not following through its climate pledges.
López Obrador took office with the promise to strongly support Pemex, a rise in domestic oil production, and “energy independence” for Mexico.
Most recently, the government doubled down on energy independence, but its plan to reduce the country’s dependence on imported gasoline and diesel risks swapping one addiction for another, with crude oil imports seen rising. Because of plans to increase domestic production of fuels, the government also plans to phase out crude oil exports, it became clear last year.
A major pillar in the government plan is the construction of a mega refinery, Dos Bocas, in López Obrador’s home state of Tabasco. In January this year, reports emerged that the construction was running $3.6 billion over budget and delays could mean that the flagship project of López Obrador may not start operations this year and not even in time for the state oil firm’s plan to end oil exports in 2023 and focus on refining fuel domestically.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.