By Lorenzo Martinez-Gomez, Corrosion Y Protecction
Last November at the 2010 International Materials Research Congress in Cancun, many countries confirmed strong environmental commitments and established long-range initiatives to reduce global CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The Cancun meeting triggered many initiatives in Mexico after the government increased the market value of Mexican carbon bonds. While Mexican carbon bonds are still priced lower than ones traded in Europe, the Mexican valuation is now priced significantly higher than U.S. carbon offsets.
The petroleum industry is a major contributor to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of Mexico. Currently, production practices in the region involve large quantities of gas being burned or released to the atmosphere. Refineries and petrochemical plants are also major sources of GHGs. Transmission and distribution of liquid and gas fuels by trucking are still common practices in Mexico. Cancun and the Riviera Maya together consume over 7 million liters per day of jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline. These fuels have traditionally been transported over land from cities on the Gulf of Mexico such as Merida, Coatzacoalcos, or even Salina Cruz on the Pacific coast, averaging over 400 to 500 km in trucking transport distances per month. In central Mexico, the highly populated and industrialized valley of Cuernavaca, Cuautla, and large parts of Guerrero also rely on fuels transported by truck from Mexico City, Tlaxcala, Puebla, or Toluca.
CO2 emissions associated with liquid or gas hydrocarbon transmission and distribution are remarkably different when the transportation method is considered. Whereas trucking is heavy in fuel consumption, pipeline delivery is by far the most reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly means of fluid transportation.
Engineering projects have calculated the potential tonnage of CO2 emissions to be saved by constructing pipeline networks to feed hydrocarbons to both the Cancun – Riviera Maya region and Cuernavaca valley, with many projects benefitting from funding based on carbon dioxide bonuses. Accurate calculations of this sort may sustain the costs of important pipeline projects based on the long-term value of the savings of carbon dioxide emissions.
Software has been developed to combine and analyze all research results involved in the calculation of the carbon signatures of pipeline and truck transportation of liquid and gas hydrocarbons. Geographical information systems were employed to perform calculations for alternative potential right-of-way trajectories, as well as the fuel consumption associated with the current trucking routes. Other considerations are related to the carbon signature of trucking as a whole, including the excess of human resources, the differential needs of metering, tanking, and logistics, and the overall critical storage facility involved.
Considering European and Mexican carbon dioxide bond values, the resulting financing opportunities for pipeline projects are significant. For the case of supplying hydrocarbons by pipeline to Cancun and the Rivera Maya, the projected carbon dioxide emission savings over 30 years could finance an important segment of the pipeline construction project. Pipeline construction to supply hydrocarbons to the Cuernavaca – Cuautla Valleys would also result in saving millions of tons of CO2