Mexico strengthens Bay of Campeche security

Mexico's Navy, with an eye on potential terrorist attacks as well as recent acts of sabotage, has begun installation of a radar system to operate in the Bay of Campeche region, home to 70% of the country's crude oil production.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, July 27 -- Mexico's Navy, with an eye on potential terrorist attacks as well as recent acts of sabotage, has begun installation of a radar system to operate in the Bay of Campeche region, home to 70% of the country's crude oil production.

Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza, head of the Mexican Navy Secretariat (Semar), said installation of the system, which will have state-of-the-art technology, is to be completed before yearend.

The action is part of a priority strategy aimed at shoring up security in coordination with Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), which has vowed to step up control over access to its facilities on land and at sea.

Saynez said the system will cover oil platforms and land areas between Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche; the port of Dos Bocas in Paraiso, Tabasco; and the Tabasco capital.

The aim of the installation is to detect intrusion by air, sea, or land in restricted or prohibited areas, enabling authorities to halt or deter encroachment.

Saynez said radar surveillance will be complemented by the presence of marines and with Operation Sonda Three, which will include frigates, interceptor vessels, helicopters, and missile-bearing patrol boats making regular sweeps of the areas.

The admiral acknowledged that authorities have not detected any international terrorist threat, saying that Mexico is not a main terrorist target. "We are not going to lower our guard," he said, because Mexico is "within the sphere of influence and interests" of the US.

Saynez noted the potential for sabotage as evidenced by recent bombings of Pemex pipelines in Queretaro and Guanajuato, which prompted the government to increase security measures (OGJ Online, July 17, 2007).

The additional coverage announced by Saynez follows efforts to step up production in the Bay of Campeche region.

Reports last week said eight firms have purchased bidding rules for the tender launched by Pemex Exploracion y Produccion for pipeline work associated with 10 wells in the Bay of Campeche, including Akal-BN (three wells), Akal-TJ (three), Akal-TM (three) and Akal-MB (one).

Pipeline construction, scheduled to begin on Aug. 28 and run for 240 days, includes the laying of 10 marine and 10 gas injection pipelines. Pemex launched bidding for the work in early July (OGJ Online, July 9, 2007).

Firms bidding on the project include Condux; Constructora Subacuatica Diavaz; Demar Instaladora y Constructora; Global Offshore Mexico; Oceanografia; Servicios y Suministros Asociados de Minatitlan; J Ray McDermott de Mexico; and Corporacion de Servicios Maritimos y Terrestres.

In March, Pemex announced the arrival of the Yuum K'ak'naab, a 2.2 million bbl capacity floating production, storage, and offloading vessel that was scheduled to begin operations in April off Ciudad del Carmen.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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