Gas flaring soars in Mexico, derailing its climate change pledges as it seeks to boost oil output
By Stefanie Eschenbacher for Reuters
It never gets completely dark in Colonia El Carmen, home to Mexico’s largest natural gas processing center, in the poor southern state of Chiapas.
After sunset, a red glare emanates from flares dotted around the Cactus gas processing center, run by state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
The complex is unable to process the vast volume of gas emitted as a byproduct of oil production and disposes of the excess by flaring it, a widespread industry practice that scientists said is detrimental to the environment.
Burning the excess gas is cheaper than investing in infrastructure to capture, process, and transport it for other uses. But in addition to carbon dioxide, flaring releases methane, a more potent greenhouse gas.
NASA satellite images of flare sites across Mexico, analyzed for Reuters by scientists at the Earth Observation Group of the Colorado School of Mines, showed that gas flaring has dramatically increased under Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Source: Reuters Graphics