Mexico’s Tamaulipas drought hits some chemicals producers as water supply halved

Jonathan Lopez


SAO PAULO (ICIS)–A severe drought affecting Mexico’s sate of Tamaulipas has prompted an order to halve water supply to chemicals and other industrial companies, although some chemicals producers have said to ICIS they are operating normally.

Tamaulipas is home to a petrochemicals hub in Altamira, near Tampico, one of the largest cities in the 3.5-million people state.

Some companies have said to ICIS they are not affected by the restrictions. Others, however, have declared force majeure due to the drought.

A spokesperson at Mexico’s chemicals major Orbia said to ICIS that the company had not been affected by the measure yet.

Alpek had not officially responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

However, a source at the company, another large Mexican chemicals producer with operations at the Altamira hub, said to ICIS that its operations had so far not been affected either.

Meanwhile, INEOS Styrolution declared force majeure from its facilities in Altamira on 20 May on the back of the water restrictions imposed by the authorities.

The force majeure remains in place.

Tamaulipas, in Mexico’s east coast, is an industrial export-intensive state bordering the US; any reduction in operations due to water shortages could mean a large financial hit to companies.

The state of Tamaulipas department for hydraulic services said on 20 May it would prioritize human water consumption and, as well as halving water supply to industry, banned swimming pools or any other commercial operations from using water.

“The water situation in Altamira is difficult at this time … Although we have not received any official communication from local authorities on this matter to date, we are committed to working in coordination and in accordance with the authorities and government measures that are taken,” said the Orbia spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s electricity grid operator Cenace issued on 16 May a nationwide alert for high temperatures of up to 45°C (113°F) which could cause supply disruption.

The alert remained in place on Wednesday.

Cenace’s executive Mauricio Cuellar Ahumada, said that according to the regulation Mexico’s electricity system must have a 6% minimum reserve so it is able to address sudden increases in demand.

“It is important to highlight that the operational measures [national alert] determined by Cenace are carried out to achieve a balance between demand and generation, as well as to avoid negative impacts on the system,” said the grid operator.

“This mechanism is used in different countries around the world where, such as Mexico, there are interconnected electrical systems. The interruptions are carried out in a staggered manner so that users do not remain for long periods without electricity supply.”

Front page picture: The Port of Altamira, Mexico’s state of Tamaulipas
Source: Altamira Municipality

Additional reporting by Daniel Lopes


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