Yucatán has untapped oil wealth 80 miles north of Progreso, according to Pemex exploratory studies. But don’t count on oil rigs appearing any time soon.
The oil is around the Scorpion Reef, known locally as the Arrecife Alacranes. The coral reef has been designated a national park and part of the United Nations Biosphere Reserve. It is one of the most important sites in the region for nesting tropical birds.
Scorpion Reef surrounds a small group of islands. Among them is Isla Pérez, the only island with inhabitants. It boasts a lighthouse that dates back to the late 1800s.
The study pinpoints many potential drilling sites in the Gulf of Mexico from Celestun to the west and east to Las Coloradas. Oil deposits are approximately 5,000 meters deep. Oil potential in Yucatán’s land area is very poor.
National oil reforms have prompted increased exploratory studies for more potential drilling sites, even as officials promise high-tech methods that would not disrupt ecologically sensitive areas.
Pemex began exploration here in 2004, but environmental agencies Semarnat and Profepa managed to hold back the project.