Mexico’s Use of Bunker Oil Could Increase by 1,109 Percent Annually

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If President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial electricity reform bill — which would prioritize the use of contaminating carbon-based sources over clean alternatives — passes in Congress, the use of sulfur-heavy bunker oil, or combustóleo, in Mexico could increase by up to 1,109 percent per year, according to the 21st Century Power Partnership (21CPP)

In a report, titled “Impact Analysis of the Modifications to the Commitment and Dispatch Rules of Units in Mexico” and released by the 21CPP earlier this month — an international nonprofit agency aimed at developing and supporting global power transformation for cleaner, safer and more efficient energy — three different scenarios are presented measuring the potential effects the bill’s passage would produce.

According to the third scenario, in which energy production is maximized at Mexico’s Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) plants and private production is relegated, the use of bunker oil would go from 266 million gallons a year in a base scenario to 3.219 billion gallons, an increase 1,109 percent.

In the second scenario, in which CFE plants and independent power producers (IPEs) have guaranteed minimum production levels, with remaining generation capacity subject to economic dispatch, the 21CCP predicted that the use of bunker oil would grow by 816 percent to 2.437 billion gallons annually.

But in the first scenario, in which CFE plants have minimum production level assured, the increase would be 816 percent.

The problem with bunker oil, which is the the bottom-of-the-barrel dregs produced during the oil refining process, is that it is not only thick and inefficient for burning, but loaded with chemicals that produce noxious gases and fine particles that can harm human health and the environment, especially along highly trafficked areas.



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