Mexico: campesinos block Tabasco oil wells

Blockades of Pemex installations in Mexico's southeastern Tabasco state are hurting the country's oil and gas output, according to the CEO of the state-owned industry giant. Emilio Lozoya Austin told Notimex news agency that crude output has been reduced by 30,000 barrels/day as a result of the blockades, launched to protest environmental damage caused by an October explosion at the company's Terra 123 well in Nacajuca. Pemex is losing $3 million/day in revenues, he said. In addition to blocking access to hundreds of oil and gas wells in the rural municipalities of Cárdenas, Huimanguillo, Centla and Cunduacán, protesters have built barricades around the Pemex Pyramid, the company's futuristic local headquarters in Villahermosa. Pemex activities across oil-rich Tabasco have been paralyzed since July 8.

The explosion at Nacajuca caused a fire that burned until Dec. 21, spilling crude oil into surrounding farmland near the Pantanos de Centla Biosphere Reserve. Mexico's environmental protection agency PROFEPA imposed a nominal 1.5 million peso ($115,278) fine on Pemex. Under popular pressure, PROFEPA plans to form 300 citizens' vigilance committees across the state to better protect its wetlands. But Pemex is refusing to indemnify local communities impacted by the disaster. In May, one of the leaders of the protests, Federico Hernández Hernández, was found dead in a burned-out car in Villa Jalupa. (APRO, Julu 10; BNamericas, El Financiero, July 7)