Environmental organizations warn that the new official mega-project, the Southeast Gas Pipeline, which will supply natural gas to the Dos Bocas refinery and the CFE, threatens a gigantic reef corridor that includes a national park and protected areas. The construction will be carried out through a public-private investment, the works will be in charge of the company TC Energía, formerly Trans Canada, and it is planned that the gas pipeline will start operating in 2025.
XALAPA, Veracruz (Proceso): In the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Veracruz, there is a corridor of more than 650 kilometers of coral reefs that is a priority for environmental protection and a source of income for thousands of fishermen. Now this "submerged treasure" -as the scientific community calls it- is at risk from a marine gas pipeline project.
The recent announcement of the construction of the Southeast Gas Pipeline set off alerts from environmental organizations, because the route will pass 550 meters from the Flora and Fauna Protection Area of the Lobos Tuxpan Reef System.
For several years, experts have documented the discovery of at least 38 new reefs -some of them submerged, whose existence was unknown- with more than 130 marine species, and designated it as the Southwest Reef Corridor of the Gulf of Mexico.
The discovery of these reefs made it possible to understand that the great reef systems are not geographically isolated but connected. They call it a corridor because it joins with already known zones such as the Lobos Tuxpan Reef System Flora and Fauna Protection Area, the reefs in the Los Tuxtlas region, and the Veracruz Reef System National Park.
The route of the gas pipeline to be built by TC Energía (formerly Trans Canada) will pass through this route.
According to the Environmental Impact Assessment (MIA) submitted to the federal government, the new pipeline will connect the Texas-Tuxpan gas pipeline with a station in Tuxpan; the route will continue along 692 kilometers of ocean and connect with another station in Coatzacoalcos; from there it will follow its marine route to Dos Bocas, in the municipality of Paraíso, Tabasco, where the natural gas will be distributed to the facilities of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
Leonardo Ortiz Lozano, researcher of the Institute of Marine Sciences and Fisheries of the Universidad Veracruzana, warns that the route will pass through the route of these reefs, which, being "new" for science, lack protection schemes, and although they are documented in scientific studies, the EIS of the gas pipeline does not even contemplate them.
In the book Corredor Arrecifal del Golfo de México: retos y oportunidades, coordinated by Ortiz Lozano and published in 2021 by the Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (Cemda) as a result of a project for the protection of said corridor, it was already warned that the lack of knowledge of these reefs could have bad consequences due to hydrocarbon industry projects, as well as intense fishing activities in the continental platform.
Scientists consider that environmental impact assessments of works, port activities and the hydrocarbon industry should include prevention and mitigation measures for these ecosystems.
On June 13 and July 11, the natural gas transportation company La Huasteca, a subsidiary of TC Energía, filed with the Agencia de Seguridad, Energía y Ambiental (ASEA) two separate procedures for the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure for the land and maritime stages of the Southeast Extension Gas Pipeline.
The project is a public-private partnership between the company TC Energía and the CFE, with an investment of 4.5 billion dollars.
Excerpt from the report published in the 2395th edition of Proceso
magazine, whose digital edition can be purchased at this link.