*** This was written for April Fools’ Day. As a joke, a false story…and was believed by many. Makes you think. But with plans in the works like Puerto Azul, bringing a “citadel of luxury” as well as a Formula One Race Course to pristine Lighthouse Reef, it’s a bit sad that anything seems possible these days. Even bringing an oil refinery less than a mile from Caye Caulker.
I love Belize – and I think this blog, as a whole, reflects that. This “article” is purely an April Fools Day prank”***
While sometimes it is hard to believe, Belize has been independent for just 34 years. In that brief time, the country has made great strides towards financial independence – especially apparent by the leaps and bounds of late.
Tourism, the lifeblood of the country, is exciting and growing exponentially. Bigger resorts, more cruise ships and soon…pirates…
But industrial projects also have their place…when planned properly. Last week, I posted about the Santander sugar venture on the mainland, the largest agriculture project and private investment (almost $150mm USD) ever made in Belize…to date. During that outing in Cayo, the potential for further industrialization of Belize was mentioned again and again…
Well, a fortuitous series of events has aligned interests that together may just set into place something pretty special – the final facet, if you will, in the jewel that is Belize.
Let me explain…
Once a private playground built by Kentucky coal titan Larry Addington, the caye (with the first golf course in Belize) has sat largely idle and for sale for the last decade…until recently. Reports have been circulating that a “Mexican investment group” purchased Caye Chapel for development. There has been lots of buzz – could a “Four Seasons Resort” finally be coming to Belize?
Curiously though, the investment group is one of many headed by none other than Emilio Lozoya Austin, CEO of the Mexican national petroleum enterprise – PEMEX.
PEMEX, the 8th largest oil company in the world, producing 3.8 million barrel a day, has recently been criticized for their inability to fully tap into and exploit the deep-water oil reserves dotting the Yucatan coastline. To do that is expensive, risky and requires sophisticated technology… technology exactly like the Quantum 9 Heavy Work Class Exploratory ROV that washed up on our reef but a week ago…
Italian company Impresub immediately dispatched representatives to Belize to reclaim this device. But the plan, it seems, is not to bring the machine (a bit worse for wear but still functional and worth millions) back to Trinidad where it was being used…but to keep the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) here in Belize.
This past weekend, as the rest of the country readied itself for The Easter festivities, a meeting took place on Caye Chapel.
Pictures from inside the elite clubhouse.
Present were representatives from PEMEX, Impresub, representatives from Belize’s Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities, Minister of Natural Resources Gasper Vega, Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia and Prime Minister Dean Barrow himself.
It appears 1,500 thread-count linens and butler served mimosas are NOT in store for Caye Chapel. So what is you ask?
AN OIL REFINERY.
That’s right, a feasibility study is already underway. As many have said, Belize’s oil: Let’s do it right.
“We know that the earth beneath the trenches that separate the Cayes from the Atolls holds commercial levels of oil reserves” representatives from PEMEX said. “Mexico and Belize are more than neighbors – those in the Yucatan & the Northern Cayes are kin. At PEMEX, we like to say ‘good pipelines make good neighbors’ and we are confident that we can partner with Belize, our neighbor, in responsibly extracting and refining the resources Belize is blessed with.”
This is not the first collaboration between PEMEX and Belize but it is BY FAR the biggest.
Apparently, much of the criteria required for constructing and operating a local refinery is ALREADY present on Caye Chapel. The island has its own infrastructure of electricity and water production, a deep-water marina and even an airstrip. Geographically, it sits equidistant between the oil reserves and the mainland of Belize, an easily bridged-by-pipeline distance away.
If all goes according to plans, Belize could be producing its own gas and oil within 3 to 5 years – a MASSIVE jump towards Belize’s economic independence.
When asked of the potential environmental and aesthetic impact of having what could be up to a half-dozen oil platforms dotting our eastern horizon, Minister of Tourism the Honorable Manuel Heredia commented “Thank you. We the UDP, appreciate your thanks. Belize is a jewel. Our jewel. People were worried about how cruise ships might affect Belize.
But you can see at night, cruise ships sparkle. The UDP brought you that sparkle. These platforms will add more sparkle at night. More lights and sparkle to the jewel of Belize.”