Air Liquide Pushes Mexico for Answers After Government Seizes Hydrogen Plant
Air Liquide Pushes Mexico for Answers After Government Seizes Hydrogen Plant.
French industrial gas manufacturer Air Liquide is pressing Mexico for answers after the government took over operations at a hydrogen processing plant last week in Hidalgo state.
Mexico ordered the temporary occupation of Air Liquide’s hydrogen plant at the Miguel Hidalgo refinery in the town of Tula on Dec. 29. The plant will be operated by Pemex’s refining arm known as Pemex Transformación Industrial, which will be responsible for paying compensation to the Paris-based company.
The company said in an emailed statement:
Air Liquide “is actively reaching out to authorities to gain clarity on the situation and is currently reviewing its options within the context of this situation,”
“Air Liquide is committed to operating within the legal framework of all jurisdictions where it operates.”
The takeover is the latest in a string of conflicts between President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, as he is known, and private companies as the nationalist leader seeks to cement state power ahead of the end of his term this year. In April, the president announced plans to buy $6 billion worth of energy assets from Iberdrola after the Spanish company faced political hostility from Mexico that affected its permits and supply. A month later, the government seized a stretch of rail line owned by billionaire German Larrea’s Grupo Mexico.
Last week, AMLO said he’s working on a proposal to buy land near Playa del Carmen from Vulcan Materials Co., after lambasting the Alabama-based company for alleged environmental damage and sending the Mexican marines to occupy the land. Vulcan claims the government’s actions are illegal and has added the latest measures to an ongoing arbitration case against Mexico under the NAFTA tribunal.
Air Liquide had supplied hydrogen to the Tula refinery since 2017, when it payed about 50 million euros ($54.5 million) to buy and upgrade the plant, part of a push to reform Mexico’s energy industry under the previous government by bringing in private companies. The Tula refinery is home to one of Mexico’s largest hydrotreaters, which use hydrogen to remove sulfur from diesel and gasoline.