Oil, Gas and the Puebla-Panama Plan

Oil, Gas and the Puebla-Panama Plan

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By Gustavo Castro Soto

If the control of the energy resources of the American Continent is fundamental for the imperialist strategy of the government of the United States (EU), in the Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP) we can see a regional expression of that strategy that is framed in the Area of Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA)

If the control of the energy resources of the American Continent is fundamental for the imperialist strategy of the government of the United States (EU), in the Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP) we can see a regional expression of that strategy that is framed in the Area of Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA)
In the document of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) "Connectivity of the Regional Proposal for the Transformation and Modernization of Central America and the Puebla-Panama Plan" (April 30, 2001), mention is made of the studies called "Regional Terminals for the Import and Storage of Fuels "and" Supply of Natural Gas to the Central American Isthmus ". They affirm the claim to "make the external acquisition of hydrocarbons more efficient" and build "two gas pipelines, one from Mexico and the other from Colombia, with a length of 1,117 and 1,310 km and estimated investments of 593 and 830 million dollars ( …) ". This is similar to the 1,464 km gas pipeline that has been intended to be built from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, crossing the territories of Afghanistan, and from there 750 km more to reach India. This Asian gas pipeline that would transport 20 billion cubic meters of gas annually and still not built, has already caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people in the region. What will the cost be in Latin America and specifically in the PPP?

In another IDB document called "Initiative for the Integration of Basic Infrastructure between Mexico and the countries of the Central American Isthmus" (November 2000), it states that "gas pipelines seem the best alternative for gas transportation (compared to gas transportation liquefied by ships) ". It also mentions two fundamental elements: first, "The gas pipeline has more local effects and has synergies with the Electricity Integration System for Central America (SIEPAC)". Second, it highlights again the strategic objective of the FTAA: "It allows the eventual interconnection from Venezuela to the United States: Gas pipeline between Yucatán and Guatemala, with extension to the rest of Central America; Submarine gas pipeline from Colombia to Panama, with extension to other northern countries ; Gas pipeline between Venezuela and Colombia (to supply Panama) ". These projects should put the indigenous and peasant populations on alert since the gas pipelines will cross their houses, cornfields, coffee plantations and forests.

In other words, it would make it easier for transnational electricity companies to invest in gas projects since it is expected to be the main input to generate energy in the next decade. The PPP and the FTAA link the gas pipelines with the regional electricity market because "The most important market for natural gas in Central America would be electricity generation," according to the same PPP. For its part, for the Electricity Integration System for Central America (SIEPAC), "the electricity industry would be the main consumer of natural gas", and the integration of the system "will facilitate convergence with the future of the natural gas industry in the region. (…) Creating incentives for the construction of gas pipelines ". In fact, in Mexico, the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) is the main consumer of natural gas in the country.
This was later confirmed by Lourdes Melgar, director of International Affairs of the Secretariat of Energy of Mexico (SENER) when affirming that the energy integration between Mexico, Canada and the United States would be palpable in March 2002, when the radiography would be presented. official of the situation of supply and demand of oil, gas and electricity in North America, since it is intended to establish the same regulations for the entire region. This is the FTAA in everything, deregulate nations (eliminate their laws), to make a continental regulation that protects transnational corporations. The document was called "Energy Profile of North America" ​​where it states that "Per capita energy consumption will grow 10% by 2010 in the North American region." It refers to the fact that the US has natural gas reserves of 167 billion cubic feet, Canada 92 billion and Mexico only 30 billion cubic feet. Thus, although the needs are more from the north than from the south, with the transfer of productive plants and industries to the south in search of better comparative advantages and cheap labor, exploitation will grow in Latin America.
But the government of Mexico has other accounts. The Secretary of Energy Ernesto Martens reported in December 2001 that the expected growth in demand for energy inputs in the country for the period 2000-2010 will be: electricity 70%; 35% in LP Gas, gas in 120% and in terms of liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel or kerosene, it will grow by 45%. He also pointed out that to satisfy current demand, Mexico imports 27% of gasoline, 19% of fuel oil and 28% of LP Gas, from which he recalled that Mexico is the world's leading consumer and that it needs to import 120 thousand barrels of fuel per day. Martens affirmed on January 6, 2002 that in July of the same year, the secretariat would announce the first package of international tenders for the exploitation and exploration of dry natural gas in Mexico through multiple service contracts, and it is expected that for next year there will be investments for a billion dollars. Then, in August it was reported that the General Directorate of Petróleos Mexicanos Exploración y Producción (PEP) had concluded the second draft of the multiple service contracts (CSM) that will allow private investment in the exploitation and production of non-associated gas. The final version is expected to be finished for the month of December 2002. Thus, by making secondary laws, the Constitution of the Republic is olympically skipped, which in its article 27 says:
"The Nation has direct control over all natural resources (...) oil and all hydrogen carbides, liquid or gaseous (...) In the case of oil and solid, liquid or gaseous hydrogen carbides or radioactive minerals, No concessions or contracts will be granted, nor will those that, where appropriate, have been granted subsist and the Nation will carry out the exploitation of those products (...) It is the exclusive responsibility of the Nation to generate, conduct, transform, distribute and supply electrical energy that has as its object the provision of public service. In this matter, no concessions will be granted to individuals and the Nation will take advantage of the goods and natural resources that are required for said purposes (...) "
That is why investors are not entirely calm until this "non-tariff barrier" is eliminated in compliance with the requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is what Fox has elegantly called "providing investment security."
They fear that the spirit of Mexican nationalism will resurrect in a courageous president who will assert the sovereignty of the nation. In any case, for big capital, investments are more urgent and they take risks with the confidence that the Mexican government will be their most faithful ally.
The electric power crisis in California reactivated interest in investing in gas pipelines. In February 2002, the governments of the United States and Mexico approved the construction of what is considered the largest gas pipeline between the two countries. Sempra and Pacific Gas & Electric will be in charge of building it in Baja California with a capacity of about five million cubic feet of natural gas per day. It will supply the Mexicali and La Rosita thermoelectric plants, in which they will produce about four thousand tons of pollutants per year. This gas pipeline could transport the gas that the US and Mexico intend to import from Bolivia and other regions of South America. Also in Chihuahua, a border state with the United States, the Mexican government granted permission to a North American company to build a gas pipeline. In August 2002, the Texan company Tidelands Oil and Gas received a tender from the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) that granted it permission to build an 8 km gas pipeline to sell gas to Piedras Negras, in the state from Coahuila, which will prevent the shipment of more than 100 trucks a day. What has taken up to 3 years, today a year was enough to grant the permit for the gas pipeline that will transport more than 140 thousand cubic meters of natural gas.
In the same month it was announced that Ecogas Chihuahua concluded the first phase of investment of more than 50 million dollars, out of a total of 650 million, in the distribution, transportation and import of natural gas as well as the generation of electricity. Ecogas is a joint venture between the American Sempra Energy International and the Mexican Próxima Gas. The CRE certified that Ecogas connected the user with 51,000 in the region that includes the cities of Delicias, Cuauhtémoc, Anáhuac and the state capital itself. The Mexican Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has already awarded foreign companies the construction of the Cd. Pemex-Mérida-Valladolid gas pipeline of 700 km to Bechtel and TransCanadá; the Rosarito gas pipeline; that of Samalayuca of 72 km granted to El Paso Energy International and El Paso Natural Gas; and the gas pipeline awarded to Enron passed to Tractebel in Nuevo León. The Bechtel corporation is the same one that in Bolivia intends to keep the water it bought from the government and stole from the Bolivian people, and which is now demanding it for millions of dollars.

The Proposal of the Mexico Third Millennium Project

For the Mexico Tercer Milenio Project (PMTM), the hydroelectric potential of the hydrological systems of the PPP region and its proposal for multifunction projects, the total contribution would be 18,450 Mw and 56,460 million kW / h / a, equivalent to 51 % of the power and 32% of the country's generation. The PMTM proposal would save 94 million barrels of fuel oil and would help to displace new steam plants that consume fossil fuels and require high investment in foreign currency.
According to the project, in the new energy centers, refineries, thermoelectric plants, petrochemical plants and associated industries with maximum feasible capacity, treatment and production could be installed in one place. "By being located in strategic areas, both for the national electricity grid and for the processing of hydrocarbons, the two most important industries -PEMEX and CFE- will combine their functions and investments with optimal profitability and productivity rates. Thus, when there is compatibility and coordination among its expansion programs an efficient and competitive use of oil and natural gas would be achieved ", confirms the PMTM.
"The capacity of the new energy centers would ensure the full supply of fuels for the electricity industry; it would facilitate the transformation of hydrocarbons in the country to give them greater added value and would export processed products instead of crude oil. The thermoelectric plants -which would have turbogas units to make better use of residual heat, would consume 8 million barrels of fuel oil or 1.28 billion cubic meters of natural gas for each 750 MW turbogenerator equipment in order to produce 5 billion kW · ha ", the project states.
The alternative sites for thermoelectric plants that meet the essential criteria, standards and concepts to form efficient and modern energy centers would be: Punta El Morro in Veracruz (3000 Mw.); Potosí-Zihuatanejo in Guerrero (3000 Mw.); Francisco Zarco in Durango (1500 Mw.); Camargo City in Chihuahua (700 Mw.); Litigú in Nayarit (3000 Mw.); Teapa in Jalisco (1500 Mw.); Pátzcuaro in Michoacán (700 Mw.); Rancho de Piedra in Tamaulipas (4500 Mw.); Minatitlán II in Veracruz (3000 Mw.) And Isla Tiburon in Sonora (3000 Mw.). The approximate investment would be six million pesos per megawatt installed. It also plans to invest in nuclear energy on Coronado-south island to install an underground power plant with 1250 MW turbogenerators. Today the Laguna Verde nuclear plant in Veracruz generates 6% of the country's electricity, when in France the percentage is 80%, according to Alfredo Elías Ayub, CFE General Manager.
CHIAPAS: Within the framework of the PPP it is intended to carry out three hydrocarbon projects that should also concern peasants and indigenous people. The PMTM proposal is "One for the supply of liquid fuels derived from petroleum in the Yucatan peninsula, another of ecological scope to comply with international environmental standards in the main marine field of the country (Mexico) located in the Gulf of Mexico (well Cantarell, the fifth most important in the world, and which produces 70% of Mexican crude) and another to increase oil and gas production by 55 thousand barrels per day and 69 million cubic feet per day, respectively, in one of the fields located in that region (Delta del Grijalva) ", specifically in Chiapas, border with the state of Tabasco.
By the way, the indigenous Tabasco people of the municipality of Centla are experiencing a battle against the Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT) that intends to expand the Villahermosa-Frontera highway in a section of 50 kilometers. On August 8, 2001, they wrote to President Vicente Fox: "Knowing your ambitious Puebla-Panama Plan and aware of the benefits that the transnational companies will obtain, we appeal to your conscience and by divine justice we ask you not to allow this dispossession. We are determined to offer our blood, as it is our only patrimony that we will inherit to our children for their survival. " They affirm that this highway will guarantee access to the port of Frontera, Tabasco, and to Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, in view of the future exploitation of 400 wells in the "Delta" oil field. The recent suspension of highways in Guatemala is a hopeful precedent for the peasant peoples in the face of attempts to dispossess their lands.
In the southeastern region of Mexico, which includes Chiapas, Pemex intends to invest 63 billion pesos over the next five years, of which almost 32%, equivalent to 20 billion, will be used for drilling and production, starting in 2002. with an investment of 6 billion (Chiapas produces 17% of the national crude). It also reported that hydrocarbon reserves in the south-southeast have decreased due to overexploitation and divestment by up to 40% in recent years. Pemex denies that there are exploration projects in the Lacandona Jungle, although many of these have already been carried out and which can be seen in the "maps" chapter at but at the same time confirms that there are fifteen bioprospecting in the south-southeast region. Oil exploration projects in Chiapas have included the municipalities of Palenque, Ocosingo, Benemérito de Las Américas (Marqués de Comillas), Las Margaritas, Independencia, La Trinitaria and Maravilla Tenejapa. In many of these regions they confirmed the presence of oil fields that were closed prior to the EZLN's irruption in January 1994.
Currently there is oil activity in the municipalities of Reforma, Juárez and Pichucalco, and the municipalities of Ostuacán and Sunuapa have been incorporated. In Reforma, Ostuacán and Sunuapa, new wells will be dug that will presumably generate 6,000 direct jobs and 6,000 indirect jobs in addition to population displacement, shortage of basic products, environmental pollution and social problems. Therefore, the parastatal will try to cushion the effects by investing 150 million pesos in environmental care. In addition, Pemex will expand the Reforma-Pichucalco highway, allocating 35 million pesos, investing six this year. New and greater impacts are then foreseen for the inhabitants of the region. Let us remember that between 1999 and 2000, Pemex leaked crude, affecting indigenous communities, impacting the environment and increasing the contamination of the Coatzacoalcos river.

Gas and Oil in Central America

For Oil Watch, the economies of the countries that depend on oil extraction become rentier and have difficulty in overcoming their own crises, since there is total dependence on the international situation, especially when oil prices are not controlled by the producing countries, but because of armed conflicts, movements of oil companies, political instability in oil-exporting countries, among other factors. On the other hand, the producing countries observe rapid economic growth concentrating large investments in the oil sector but weakening other sectors and at the same time increasing their external indebtedness. In these countries it is not profitable to produce anything locally as it is cheaper to import everything. When the oil bonanza ends, the economy lacks competitive sectors and collapses, even putting its food sovereignty in crisis, accompanied by other high rates of poverty. Among them are high military expenditures; low index of Human Development and economic growth; high infant mortality and malnutrition; low spending on health, low schooling and high illiteracy; vulnerability to economic shocks; high corruption and authoritarianism; low government effectiveness as well as high probability of armed violence.
The seven countries of Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama) depend heavily on imported oil. For example, dependence on oil is 100% in the case of Belize and 52% in the case of Costa Rica. On the other hand, oil consumption has doubled in the region since 1980, reaching 244 thousand barrels per day in 2000. Consumption is comparable to Chile (245 thousand) although Central America has twice the population; and Hong Kong (254 thousand), although it is six times smaller than Central America in terms of population, whose large percentage does not have access to electricity. In 1998, the countries of the region had an energy consumption of 0.62 million million BTUs, which is equivalent to 0.2% of the world total, a figure similar to their participation in the gross world product.
Of the total energy consumed by the entire region, 71% corresponds to oil equivalent to 0.3% of world oil consumption, 24% to hydroelectric energy, 0.3% to coal and 5% to other sources that include geothermal and net imports of electrical energy. Thus, the region imported 186 thousand barrels of oil a day and 0.08 short tons of coal. Central America contains about 0.05% of the world's proven oil reserves and has virtually no natural gas reserves and no coal.
Mexico and Venezuela are the countries that mainly supply oil to the region under the San José Pact and the Caracas Energy Agreement. In the Pact of San José of 1980, and renewed year after year, Venezuela and Mexico committed to deliver to the Central American countries and 4 Caribbean countries, 160 thousand barrels of crude oil and petroleum products on preferential terms. In the Caracas Energy Agreement of October 2000, Venezuela promised to supply additional oil to the Central American and Caribbean countries at preferential prices and terms for the next 15 years. Thus, for the year 2000, oil consumption accounted for approximately 75% of total energy consumption in Central America, a region that does not consume natural gases and consumes very little coal. Since 2001, Florencio Salazar, Coordinator of the Puebla-Panama Plan in Mexico, confirmed that the government planned to lay gas pipelines to increase the sale of hydrocarbons and natural gas to the seven countries. If the transnational companies take over the land, the distribution of energy and the production of electricity, they would benefit from these preferential prices from Venezuela to the region. And they go after it.
In Central America, electrical energy comes mainly from hydroelectric dams. In 1998, the installed capacity for the generation of electrical energy was close to 5,517 MW, 52% of it coming from hydroelectric plants, 40% from thermoelectric plants and 4% from geothermal and biomass. According to the World Commission on Dams (CMR), Mexico has 540 dams for electricity generation, flood control and irrigation of all sizes, and has 3 in planning; Guatemala has 4 and 9 in planning; Belize has one; Nicaragua with 4; Panama with 2 and plans to build three more; Costa Rica has 9; Honduras with 9; and El Salvador with 5. All of them give a total of 574 hydroelectric dams and 15 in planning. And although the trend in the PPP region is to create more hydroelectric dams, gas is also expected to be the main source of power generation. However, in the late 1990s, foreign companies began to aggressively penetrate the region, especially from Spanish and American transnationals, and the use of thermal generation grew rapidly.
Although for now the energy resources in Central America are limited, the region is strategic for the international energy markets as a center for the transportation of oil through the Panama Canal, where nearly 625 thousand barrels of crude oil and petroleum products crossed daily in 1998. which represents 62% of total oil shipments in the direction from the Atlantic to the Pacific and most of the petroleum products in the opposite direction. But the route between North and South America, or between North America and Asia, is also strategic. Hence, the PPP proposes the crossing of the entire territory, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, through rain and dry channels with road and rail networks. To guarantee this, the governments of the region are collaborating closely with the Bush administration, as well as some "non-governmental" organizations (NGOs), to promote the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) that are required in order to oil commercial transit. , flow of goods and capital, but not of labor. That is why in May 2000, after 4 years of negotiations, the "Northern Triangle" made up of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras signed an FTA with Mexico, and negotiated another with the Andean community made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador , Peru and Venezuela. In addition, together with Nicaragua they develop the customs union that would begin in January 2004. On the other hand, the United States government imposes ("negotiates") a FTA with the Central American governments, convinced that with this they will leave poor, but ignoring, or wanting to ignore, which will be the epitaph of his grave. As if that were not enough to lose sovereignty, negotiations are advancing to interconnect the electricity networks of the Central American countries administered by the Spanish power company Endesa.
Faced with the impressive deforestation of the jungles, climate change and the effects we now see on the environment, as if poverty were not enough to convince themselves, those who now criticize and vociferate against the opponents of the PPP megaprojects arguing that they are against development, tomorrow they will applaud. Because the resistance continues. Communities and peasant, indigenous and environmental organizations in Guatemala gave a strong defeat to the PPP by achieving the cancellation of two highways that would link the Olmeca-Maya tourist circuit, according to the newspaper "Tabasco Hoy" in the first days of October 2002. One It would go from Tikal to the El Mirador-Río Azul National Park on the border between Guatemala and Campeche. It would connect Tenosique, Tabasco, with the community of El Naranjo in Guatemala. Both highways in the petenera jungle of Guatemala already threatened by oil extraction.

In Bush's absurd war against Iraq, where the military and oil companies win and the civilians who put the dead lose, it makes us reflect on the imperial eagle thirsty for oil and gas that now looks towards the territory of the Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP) as a region of commercial transit and potential search for more hydrocarbons. It does not control Iraq, but it does control the indebted and impoverished Mesoamerica that finds strong allies among its governments, oligarchy and civil organizations that applaud Free Trade Agreements (FTA) under the illusion of "humanizing" the inhumanizable: voracious and ruthless neoliberal globalization over the peoples of the Continent. And the only thing that we continue to observe is the looting of natural resources, the militarization and bloody violence against the Indian peoples due to the looting that has characterized the entire region. For this reason, we will now analyze the situation of the Central American countries around the black gold that the empire covets.
1) GUATEMALA: Central America produces small quantities of crude oil and most of it is destined for the United States for refining and another part for domestic consumption. Of the total energy consumption in the region in 1998, Guatemala consumed 4%, which is also the largest oil producer in Central America and where all the proven reserves of the region are located there. The 526 million barrels of proven oil reserves in Guatemala are located mainly in the jungles and the Petén basin, which are presumed to be associated with the Mexican fields in the states of Tabasco and Marqués de Comillas in Chiapas. Guatemala imports around 500 barrels a day of gasoline and 2,300 barrels a day of diesel from Mexico. In 1998, Pemex signed an agreement to start building gas stations in Guatemala in 1990. For its part, Texaco distributes liquefied gas in the country and has gas stations as does Shell.
Since the end of the war and the supposed peace accords in 1996, the government opened investments and concessions for oil and gas exploration, so oil production increased from 19 thousand barrels a day in 2001 to 21 thousand in the year 2000. Today it already produces about 25,000 barrels of oil per day, equivalent to 0.02% of the world total. Moreover, for researchers Sarah Aird and Adrián Boutureira, Guatemala is located in an ancient geological belt that underlies 75% of verified oil reserves in the world. According to them, the companies WesPac Technologies Corporation and Tradestar Corporation, estimate that there are up to one billion barrels of oil in the 300,000 acres of their concessions in the Petén. Although for Amy B. Rosenthal of Conservation International the reserves could reach 1,400 million barrels.
Since 1998, the American company Union Pacific bought the Canadian company Norcen Energy, which in turn owned the company "Basic Resources International" (a French company until 1997 that operated with many World Bank financing). The purchase was made for more than 300 million dollars and since then it controls practically all of the country's oil production. The sale included all of Guatemala's oil fields, a 275-mile crude oil pipeline, the La Libertad refinery that produces 4,000 barrels a day and also storage and loading / unloading facilities. However, in the last 20 years of oil exports, only 20% has been for the benefit of the State and the rest for the oil transnationals.
In May 2002, the Guatemalan government, through the Minister of Energy and Mines who would later hold the position of Presidential Commissioner of the PPP in Guatemala, granted concession A-6-96 to the company Compañía Petrolera del Atlántico (CPA) to explore for oil and natural gas in Lake Izabal, the largest lake in Guatemala and near the Gulf of Honduras, where more than 50 indigenous communities survive on the shores of the lake. In 2001, the government approved two exploration contracts near the lake, but in May 2002 President Alfonso Portillo canceled one of the contracts due to strong pressure from environmental groups. And it is that here opposing interests were found generated by the same source. On the one hand, the Structural Adjustment policies imposed by the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to open up oil investment to transnational capital, accompanied by the support that the World Bank granted with loans for more than 40 million dollars to the oil company, violating its own operating regulations and environmental impact studies. On the other hand, the containment and clearance project that the WB delivered for $ 110,000 in soft loans, with a promise of another 200,000, for conservation and tourism service projects to organizations in the municipality of El Estor, department of Izabal, who today they are demanding the cancellation of these oil exploitation concessions. Many of them do not know that it is the same World Bank, which supposedly helps them with credits at the expense of taxes from the population, which encourages the extraction of oil.
El propietario de CPA es Ramón Campollo, uno de los más ricos empresarios de Guatemala que cuenta con inversiones en el sector azucarero en Costa Rica y Republica Dominicana, además es propietario del ingenio azucarero Madre Tierra en Guatemala. Cuenta también con inversiones en generación de electricidad a base de carbón y posee acciones en la Empresa Eléctrica de Guatemala, operada por la española Unión Fenosa. El contrato otorgado a Campollo establece: "1. Da libertad al contratista para usar, vender, disponer, comercializar y exportar en forma que más le convenga los hidrocarburos, así como procesar o licuar gas natural, azufre y otras sustancias. 2. Pasados seis años del contrato el contratista puede llevar perforados tres pozos de tres mil metros de profundidad cada uno. 3. La empresa está obligada a pagar al Estado el 34% cuando la producción neta sea de uno a veinte mil barriles de producción diaria".
Prácticamente Centroamérica no consume gas natural. Sin embargo, en diciembre de 1999, Guatemala y México firmaron un protocolo comprometiéndose a construir un gasoducto de gas natural desde Ciudad Pemex en el estado de Tabasco a la ciudad Escuintla en el sur de Guatemala. El gasoducto de 347 millas y 450 millones de dólares seguiría el camino del oleoducto ya construido en la selva petenera de Guatemala. El gasoducto pretende ser terminado en el 2004 y podría extenderse hacia el resto de Centroamérica. Estas inversiones de gas facilitarán la fusión con las inversiones en el sector eléctrico ya que el gas será la principal fuente de generación de electricidad como ya lo hemos visto en otros Boletines "Chiapas al Día" que pueden ser consultados en En esta línea el gobierno guatemalteco ha permitido a las compañías generadoras de electricidad establecer contratos con sus propios clientes y conectarse al sistema eléctrico. En 1998 el 80% de la empresa distribuidora de electricidad en los centros urbanos, EEGSA, que distribuye el 70% de la electricidad en Guatemala y cuenta con 510 mil clientes en la zona metropolitana de la ciudad capital, fue vendida por 20 millones de dólares al consorcio conformado por la española Iberdrola Energía, la portuguesa Electricidad de Portugal y la estadounidense TECO Power Services. Iberdrola tiene planes de inversión por 100 millones de dólares y está interesada en competir en el mercado desregulado de la región. En agosto de ese mismo 1998 entraron en operación cuatro nuevas plantas de generación de energía eléctrica, incluyendo la primera geotermoeléctrica del país, la primera hidroeléctrica privada y una nueva termoeléctrica a petróleo. Pese a todo, en 1999 tan sólo el 56% de la población tenía acceso a la energía eléctrica. Hay otras fuentes que difieren de la Comisión Mundial de Represas ya que afirman que el gobierno guatemalteco pretende construir 12 hidroeléctricas y no 9, además de una geotérmica y dos termoeléctricas de 120 MW cada una. En fin, cada fuente con sus cifras. Pero lo que nos queda claro es que la energía en el contexto del PPP, como ya hemos analizado en otros Boletines, no es para los hogares ni los pobres y mucho menos para los indígenas, sino para las industrias.
En 1998 Unión Fenosa compró por 101 millones de dólares la distribución de energía eléctrica rural, el INDE, con 580 mil usuarios y 30% de la energía eléctrica del país. En el mismo año la empresa GGG subsidiaria de Constellation Power de Estados Unidos, compró dos viejas plantas y el derecho de vender energía eléctrica por los próximos 18 años. El consorcio integrado por las empresas TECO Power Services, Coastal Power y la guatemalteca Compañía Eléctrica de Centroamérica, construyeron en el 2000 la mayor planta de generación del país y primera carboeléctrica eléctrica de Centroamérica, San José (de 120 Mw). En el mismo año la empresa Powerhouse Energy Corp anunció una coinversión con Servicios Electromecánicos de Guatemala (Selmeca) para construir una planta hidroeléctrica de 31 millones de dólares a 80 km al occidente de la ciudad capital.
2) HONDURAS: Del total del consumo energético de la región en 1998, Honduras consumió el 11.3%. Un año después, en 1999 se confirmó la presencia de yacimientos petrolíferos. Inmediatamente, el gobierno firmó un tratado con Colombia de delimitación de la plataforma marina, una semana después que Bogotá había otorgado derechos de exploración a una compañía Británica sobre los bancos de Serranilla. En el mismo año la compañía japonesa Japex realizó un estudio sobre el potencial de hidrocarburos en la Costa Norte. En el 2001 la Secretaría de Recursos Naturales publica los términos de referencia para las licitaciones de los bloques de Tela y los de Gracias a Dios y Moskitia Hondureña, donde sus pobladores ignoran que pisan grandes yacimientos de petróleo. Por lo pronto existen 24 pozos perforados a lo largo de la costa atlántica en la que han participado las empresas petroleras Esso (1978), Texaco (1979), Pure Oil (1963), PAC (1963), Cambria (1991) y PetHond (1956).
En Mesoamérica conviven con la naturaleza alrededor de 60 pueblos indígenas. La región representa el 0.5% de la superficie del planeta y pose el 7% de la biodiversidad, estando el área compuesta por una variedad de ecosistemas frágiles, por lo que la presencia de los yacimientos ponen en peligro el Corredor Biológico Mesoamericano (CBM) y la sobrevivencia de millones de indígenas y campesinos.
La empresa estadounidense Applied Energy Service (AES) tiene fuertes intereses para invertir en Honduras. Hasta la fecha no ha recibido el permiso de instalar una planta generadora de energía eléctrica por el incumplimiento de los requisitos ambientales. La ministra hondureña de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente, Xiomara Gómez, dijo que el permiso "no se le ha denegado, pero tampoco le ha sido aprobado". AES pretende invertir 780 millones de dólares para levantar la planta en Puerto Cortés, en el Caribe, y que funcionaría con gas natural. La planta generaría unos 600 megavatios para el mercado nacional y vender energía a Guatemala y El Salvador.
El gobierno de Honduras, por su parte, firmó un acuerdo con el FMI obligándose a privatizar su consejo de electricidad, el ENEE, con un precio estimado de 500 millones de dólares. El sistema eléctrico de Honduras con capacidad de 610 MW depende en más de la mitad de hidroeléctricas que sufrieron grandes daños con el huracán Mitch. A principios de 1999 un incendio en la presa de El Cajón afectó más del 60% del suministro de energía eléctrica del país. La desregulación impuesta por el FMI pretende atraer a las corporaciones transnacionales uniendo los intereses entre los sectores del gas, petróleo y generación de energía. Texaco, por su parte pretende, manejar la importación de combustibles a través de Puerto.
3) NICARAGUA: Durante el conflicto y poco después, el país no realizó inversiones en su sector energético entre 1980 y 1994. Tiene un consumo de energía eléctrica per cápita muy bajo y un déficit de electricidad por lo que la debe importar desde Panamá cuando la demanda aumenta, lo que podrá cambiar ante la conformación del Sistema de Integración Eléctrica para Centroamérica. Sus plantas geotérmicas e hidroeléctricas operan muy por debajo de su capacidad. Según estimaciones del Instituto Nicaragüense de Energía, durante los próximos 20 años la demanda de energía eléctrica podría crecer con tasas anuales medias de 6%, requiriendo incrementar su capacidad instalada en el mismo lapso a 1180 Mw.
Del total del consumo energético de la región en 1998, casi el 9.7% lo consumió Nicaragua. En el mismo año el Congreso aprobó la privatización de la Empresa Nicaragüense de Electricidad (ENEL) que generaba, transmitía y distribuía la energía eléctrica. Pero el huracán Mitch prolongó el proceso de privatización ya que las empresas no comprarían infraestructura hasta que el gobierno compusiera los desperfectos. La paraestatal se dividiría en varias distribuidoras, para más tarde privatizar las plantas de generación geotérmicas, hidroeléctricas y térmicas que representan una capacidad total instalada de 340 Mw. La red de transmisión permanecería en manos gubernamentales que es el mismo esquema de privatización que propone hoy el presidente mexicano Vicente Fox.
En 1998 el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) otorgó a Nicaragua préstamos para generación de electricidad con fuentes renovables de energía. En el mismo año inició la construcción de una planta geotérmica de 232 Mw en el occidente del país, con apoyo de los gobiernos de Alemania, Estados Unidos y Rusia; y los legisladores nicaragüenses aprobaron leyes con nuevos procedimientos para la exploración petrolera con el fin de facilitar la inversión transnacional. En 1999 la estadounidense Coastal inauguró su planta de diesel de 51 Mw para vender energía a ENEL. Para el 2000 se llevaron a cabo una treintena de subastas para concesiones, principalmente en la plataforma marítima. Para ese año Nicaragua ya contaba con un sistema eléctrico conformado por dos plantas hidroeléctricas de 50 Mw cada una; una geotermoeléctrica de 33 MW; cinco termoeléctricas con una capacidad total de 220 Mw; y una termoeléctrica de diesel con 51 Mw.
Dos años más tarde, en el 2002 ENEL anunció que licitaría seis plantas de energía en el país donde cinco empresas tienen interés de invertir: Coustal Power, Keppel Fles, Anfels, AES, Hidro-Quebec y Duke Energy. Luego, la contraloría del país ordenó la suspensión por anomalías en el proceso en la venta de la paraestatal, Empresa Generadora Hidroeléctrica (Hidrogesa), adjudicada a Coastal Power International El Paso, que licitó ENEL. En esta licitación también participó Enron de Nicaragua. Hidrogesa es propietaria de las plantas generadoras Centroamérica y Santa Bárbara ubicadas en el norte del país con capacidad de 100 megavatios cada una. En el mismo año el Presidente Enrique Bolaños anunció la apertura del país a la exploración petrolera de compañías extranjeras, concesiones de tierra y campos petrolíferos submarinos en los océanos Atlántico y Pacífico. Pero Colombia y Honduras también reclaman como suyas las 44 mil millas cuadradas del Caribe que está ofreciendo Nicaragua a las empresas. En el marco del PPP y el ALCA las nuevas inversiones requeridas por el sistema eléctrico de Nicaragua entre hoy y el año 2020 se estiman en 1,800 millones de dólares.
Nicaragua no tiene producción comercial o reservas probadas de petróleo. Si embargo, se considera una de las pocas áreas de la región para explorar la existencia de petróleo y gas, sobre todo en la cuenca de Miskito, frente a la costa del Atlántico, y en la cuenca de Sandino, frente a la costa del Pacífico. Pero es en la cuenca de Miskito donde las poblaciones indígenas se mantienen en resistencia a la explotación maderera y es a quienes les debemos la protección del medio ambiente. Actualmente empresas extranjeras desarrollan un oleoducto por 450 millones de dólares para canalizar 480 millones de barriles de crudo de Venezuela, desde Punta del Mono en territorio indígena en la costa Atlántica, para cruzar hasta Corinto en la costa oeste y de ahí embarcarlo hacia EU.
4) COSTA RICA: Del total del consumo energético de la región en 1998, cerca del 21% correspondió a Costa Rica. Su gobierno lanzó a concurso en 1998 una primera ronda de contratos de exploración petrolera (dos sitios en la plataforma continental del Caribe y dos en la marítima). En 1999 dio comienzo la construcción de la planta geotermoeléctrica Miravalles III con 27.5 Mw, y fue la primera en régimen de construcción-propiedad-transferencia del país y la primera geotérmica de éste régimen en América Latina. Al año siguiente, en el 2000 los legisladores aprobaron una ley que abriría ICE a la competencia lo que provocó grandes movilizaciones sociales. Sin embargo, en el mismo año el gobierno otorgó a la empresa estadounidense Mallon Resources Corporation una concesión para la exploración de petróleo y gas en 2.3 millones de acres en seis bloques en la parte noreste del país. Según la empresa estadounidense Harken Energy Corporation la costa caribeña del país cuenta con petróleo suficiente para poder invertir.
Al interior de la región todos los países muestran una alta dependencia del petróleo y en el caso de Costa Rica es de un 52%; y la Compañía Nacional de Luz y Fuerza de Costa Rica anunció la construcción de un proyecto de gas metano en los terrenos de relleno de Río Azul, al este de San José. La paraestatal petrolera de Trinidad y Tobago (Petrotrin) pretende invertir en la modernización de la refinería estatal de Recope y sus estaciones de servicio, así como en la distribución de productos petrolíferos de Costa Rica.

En Costa Rica cerca del 80% de la población cuenta con energía eléctrica, abastecida en un 90% a partir de plantas hidroeléctricas. En el marco de la especulación de las inversiones deseadas para el gran capital, el país requerirá inversiones por 3,000 millones de dólares entre hoy y el año 2011 para cubrir el incremento anual de energía eléctrica del 10%.
5) EL SALVADOR: Del total del consumo energético de la región en 1998, el 14.5% correspondió a El Salvador donde la geotermia es particularmente importante de la misma manera como lo es en Nicaragua. Exceptuando a Belice, la energía hidroeléctrica es en todos los países de Centroamérica la segunda fuente de energía en importancia, representando el 14% en El Salvador. La privatización de activos energéticos es reciente en este país. En 1998 la empresa estadounidense AES and Houston Industries, Enersal de Chile y Electricidad de Caracas, Venezuela, con 585 millones de dólares ganaron el 75% de las acciones de cuatro empresas de distribución de energía eléctrica que atienden a 900 mil usuarios. La paraestatal CEL camina hacia la privatización de sus plantas hidroeléctricas al tiempo que busca socios para invertir en plantas geotérmicas. En el 2000 la empresa Duke Energy International inició la expansión de la planta de Ajutla para atender los mercados de El Salvador y Guatemala.
6) BELICE: Del total del consumo energético de la región en 1998, Belice consumió el 0.6%. Prácticamente el país depende de un 100% de la importación de petróleo. Sin embargo, exceptuando a Belice que proyecta la nueva hidroeléctrica El Chalillo, la energía hidroeléctrica es en todos los casos la segunda fuente de energía en importancia. México le vende hasta el 80% de sus necesidades de energía eléctrica.
7) PANAMÁ: Su producción petrolera es poca llegando a mil barriles diarios de petróleo en el 2001. Su importancia principal radica en el transporte por el Canal de Panamá. En 1999 las importaciones de petróleo de los Estados Unidos que transitan por el Canal de Panamá fueron de un promedio de 78,670 barriles por día. En el 2001, por el canal, aproximadamente 613 mil barriles de petróleo crudo y productos petroleros pasaron diariamente; así mismo el 57% del total de los transportes hacia el sur del Atlántico al Pacífico y de productos petroleros dominando el tráfico hacia el sur. De acuerdo con el Tratado del Canal de Panamá de 1977, Panamá asumió responsabilidad plena del canal en diciembre de 1999. La Comisión Estadounidense del Canal de Panamá fue reemplazado por una entidad panameña llamada la Autoridad Canal de Panamá. El Tratado garantiza la neutralidad permanente del Canal.
Del total del consumo energético de la región en 1998, un 22.6% correspondió a Panamá. Para otros analistas Panamá es el mayor importador de energía de la región. Ya desde 1999 se propuso construir un gasoducto desde Cartagena, Colombia, hacia Colón en Panamá con el fin de abastecer inicialmente a una planta termoeléctrica.
En 1998 la paraestatal eléctrica IRHE se vendió por 603 millones de dólares dividiéndose en cuatro empresas generadoras y tres de distribución. Coastal Corporation e Hydro-Quebec International adquirieron el 49% de la hidroeléctrica de Fortuna Generation (la tercera parte de la capacidad instalada de Panamá). Enron Caribe III compró el 51% de la planta de Bahía Las Minas en 91.72 millones de dólares y AES compró el 49% de las plantas de Chiriquí y Bayano quien además pretende construir otra hidroeléctrica con 200 millones de dólares. Desde la venta de IRHE la ciudad capital tiene déficit de energía eléctrica por lo que la empresa alemana Minova y las estadounidenses Noresco y Wartsila desarrollan una nueva planta de 60 Mw. Desde 1998 el BID confirmó que la inversión necesaria hasta el 2008 podría ser de más de 7 mil millones de dólares para poder satisfacer el crecimiento anual del 6%.

Fuentes y Bibliografía:
– Organizaciones civiles: "Petroleras en Acción, Selva en Destrucción", OilWatch Mesoamérica y Panamá, junio del 2000; CIEPAC Boletín "Chiapas al Día" No. 265 y Chiapas en Cifras;; "Moratoria a la ampliación de la frontera petrolera", Johannesburgo 2002, Oil Watch; "Greenhouse Gangsters vs. Climate Justice" september 1999, , Plan Puebla-Panamá "Batalla por el futuro de Mesoamérica" de la Red de Oposición al PPP, septiembre 2002; "Un Crudo Despertar", El Banco Mundial, Políticas de los Estados Unidos y Petróleo en Guatemala, Witness for Peace; Red Latinoamericana Contra Represas y por los Ríos, sus Comunidades y el Agua; Coalición Ríos Vivos; Movimiento de Afectados por Represas de Brasil (MAB); red de Asociaciones Ecologistas de Misiones (RAE); Fundación Centro de Derechos Humanos y medio Ambiente; International Rivers Network (IRN).
– Prensa: Sur Proceso No. 44; Agencia Latinoamericana de Información; Boletín Comercio y Desarrollo; Siempre! (27 de marzo 2002); El País Honduras (4 de marzo 2002); Fortune; Síntesis de la prensa sobre 14 diarios de circulación nacional realizada por CFE correspondiente a los meses de diciembre de 2001, y enero y febrero del 2002 (La Jornada, Milenio, Crónica, Reforma, Economista, Excélsior, Novedades, Financiero, Heraldo, UnomásUno, Sol de México, Universal, Ovaciones, Prensa); El Universal (14 de junio del 2001); Milenio Diario (5 de agosto del 2002); Cuarto Poder (17 y 23 de agosto 2002); Diario de Chiapas (23 agosto 2002); La Prensa Gráfica, La Jornada (2002: 19 de junio, entre otras), El Mundo (9, 10 y 17 de mayo del 2002); CincoDías Economía (3 de mayo 2002); Reforma (20 de agosto 2002).
– Gobierno de México: Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE)>; Plan Puebla-Panamá, Infraestructura de Comunicaciones y Energía del PPP para Chiapas, Septiembre del 2001; Programa de Inversiones 2002 SCT del PPP, enero de 2002; "Conexión México-Guatemala", interconexión eléctrica del PPP, 8 de febrero de 2002; Plan Nacional "México Tercer Milenio"; Pemex: "Industria Petrolera en México: Elementos para Impulsar su Desarrollo", Ing. Raúl Muñoz Leos, 30 de Mayo 2002, Monterrey N. L.; INEGI; Alfredo Elías Ayub, Gerente General de la CFE, 12 de agosto del 2000; Elías Ayub en conferencia conjunta con Luis Téllez, 6 de junio 2000; Elías Ayub en entrevista de Guillermo de Toscano, 12 de agosto 2000; Alfredo Elías Ayub, "Perspectivas del Sector Eléctrico Mexicano; Secretaría de Energía, Programa Sectorial de Energía 2001-2006".
Organismos multilaterales: Comisión Mundial de Represas; BID, CEPAL y BCIE: "Conectividad de la Propuesta Regional de Transformación y Modernización de Centroamérica y del Plan Puebla-Panamá", abril 30 de 2001; "PPP Iniciativas Mesoamericanas y Proyectos", junio 15 de 2001; Boletín de Prensa BID del 28 de noviembre de 2001; Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica para los países de América Central (SIEPAC), Madrid 2001; e "Iniciativa para la integración de la infraestructura básica entre México y los países del Istmo Centroamericano", noviembre 2000; Supplement E-Bulletin: Inter-American Developmetn Bank – Civil Society Iniciative Update on Plan Puebla-Panamá, March-April 2002 (InterAction).

Plan Puebla-Panamá, Infraestructura de Comunicaciones y Energía del PPP para Chiapas, Septiembre del 2001; Programa de Inversiones 2002 SCT del PPP, enero de 2002; "Conexión México-Guatemala", interconexión eléctrica del PPP, 8 de febrero de 2002; Plan Nacional "México Tercer Milenio"; Pemex: "Industria Petrolera en México: Elementos para Impulsar su Desarrollo", Ing. L.; INEGI; Alfredo Elías Ayub, Gerente General de la CFE, 12 de agosto del 2000; Elías Ayub en conferencia conjunta con Luis Téllez, 6 de junio 2000; Elías Ayub en entrevista de Guillermo de Toscano, 12 de agosto 2000; Alfredo Elías Ayub, "Perspectivas del Sector Eléctrico Mexicano; Secretaría de Energía, Programa Sectorial de Energía 2001-2006".- Organismos multilaterales: Comisión Mundial de Represas; BID, CEPAL y BCIE: "Conectividad de la Propuesta Regional de Transformación y Modernización de Centroamérica y del Plan Puebla-Panamá", abril 30 de 2001; "PPP Iniciativas Mesoamericanas y Proyectos", junio 15 de 2001; Boletín de Prensa BID del 28 de noviembre de 2001; Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica para los países de América Central (SIEPAC), Madrid 2001; e "Iniciativa para la integración de la infraestructura básica entre México y los países del Istmo Centroamericano", noviembre 2000; Supplement E-Bulletin: Inter-American Developmetn Bank – Civil Society Iniciative Update on Plan Puebla-Panamá, March-April 2002 (InterAction).
– Otros: ; "El Petróleo y los Minerales en Guatemala" de Rafael Piedra Santa, Universidad de San Carlos, Guatemala 1979.

Enviado por el autor
Publicado en Chiapas al Día, No. 318
CIEPAC Chiapas, México