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Sep 30, 2011

Cuban man’s Oil Refinery in Belmopan?

Also in the west, we reported on Thursday that authorities stumbled on an illegal oil refinery about a mile from the Western Highway in the vicinity of the Belize Christian Academy two weeks ago. A Cuban national who came to Belize on a tourist visa was at the site; he is in custody tonight and is said not to be forthcoming with information. The big questions are: who was supplying the crude and to whom he was selling the diesel and kerosene produced? A bulldozer, tractor and a crane were among the equipment found at the site, which was operating without a permit. Aside from the Immigration Department and INTERPOL, the department of environment is investigating the case and is preparing to take Roberto Igarza Velasquez to court on environmental charges.  News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Police moved in on a clandestine oil refinery near Belize Christian Academy off the Western Highway earlier this month. They have arrested Cuban National, Roberto Igarza Velazquez, who was captured at the site. The Department of the Environment is also investigating and Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria, says they are heading to court next Tuesday.

Martin Alegria

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer

“Generally speaking, yes we came upon what appears or purports to be an oil refinery; very, very basic. So my technicians are looking at what is there and see if we can link it up to what a refinery is, which from appearances it is. But we need to look into those details and more importantly who it is that basically built it and who was operating it. So those are basic things that we are looking into. We have some observations, conclusions already—but the case is next week so we are running against time in terms of setting up the case as strongly as we can. We don’t know when it started; we have ideas based on when site visits are done and nothing is there. You might go next week and it’s there. So those are things and the production aspects in terms of—you can look at it from various angles and that’s what they are looking. The supply chain, for example, in terms of who sold to who and how many and where or based on the size of the equipment there, the rudimentary aspects of how much would be the best estimated production based on a daily or weekly basis. So those are estimations right now.”

The makeshift refinery was producing an estimated fifty-five gallons every three days; it’s a small and basic operation but Alegria says the rules still apply.

Martin Alegria

“The type of equipment used and so on what apparently is there is not as good quality as could be, but it’s still enough. And what helps the situation is the type of crude that we have, which is almost diesel—what we call the sweet crude and it makes at least the basic processing simple. That’s the reason why we may have people who venture into these types of activities without first getting the proper environmental screening. That’s the issue at hand right now, the process of environmental impact assessment or EIA process as we call it.”

Igarza might also face additional charges for damage caused by pollution, and according to Alegria he has not been cooperating with investigators.

Martin Alegria

“As you approach it you notice. Some people might say oh but that happens in many mechanic shops in Belize City and in the towns you have that. Yes, but there’s a difference between crude and waste oil even though it’s petroleum derivatives. That’s one of the issues that we are looking into more in detail to see if we can address additional charges in relation to soil, water and perhaps even air emissions; pollution aspects. But the key issue here is basically not following the screening process required by law. It’s a person that we have of interest and police has other types of interest into it. We are trying to question but he hasn’t been cooperating because he’s been quiet. But there are many other issues related to this incident which you may find out soon, but we are looking at the environmental implications of what is being done or was being done.”

Alegria says a container of diesel fuel was found at the site that appeared to have been refined just before the operation was busted. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

As we said, Igarza is being mum so that the financier of the clandestine operation has not been confirmed. The identity of the owner of the heavy duty equipment has been sourced to one Sydney Leslie.

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23 Responses for “Cuban man’s Oil Refinery in Belmopan?”

  1. Earl Grey says:

    Why doesn’t THE GOVERNMENT TAKE IT OVER to produce CHEAPER GAS FOR US BELIZEANS.

    WHY SHUT IT DOWN??? And if these people can do it…. WE CAN DO IT TOO!!!!!!!!!

    THE GOVERNMENT CAN BUILD A BETTER REFINERY than they could, so WHAT’S STOPPING THEM?

    BUILD A REFINERY TODAY……….FOR A BETTER TOMORROW!!!

  2. Ricky Malthus says:

    This total investigation by Department of Environment is as phony as a three dollar bill. Belize is such a corrupt place to do business. How come the Dept is not investigating the pollution Barrow is causing by bringing foreigners to rule over your dumb @$$#$. You ridiculous people.

  3. A.N. says:

    This guy refines his own crude oil to Diesel and Kerosene while we import these fuels. Why don’t we use his techniques and skills. Lets reduce importation.

  4. PG Man says:

    If this man was able to build his own Refinery. That just shows that Belize can get it’s own Refinery. I think that the GOB should pay this guy to make a run a Refinery.

  5. Farid says:

    This is what the country needs, cheaper fuel. Get the man to supply the whole country.

  6. Manuel Almendar says:

    ALL ABOUT STUPID ENVY!!!
    THEY CANNOT DO IT!!! THEY DON`T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT A REFINERY, HERE COMES AN ENTERPRISING MAN TO SHOW THEM THAT IT CAN BE DONE AND THEY LOCK HIM UP!!!
    THEY SOUND SO FOOLISH TRYING TO FIND A REASON TO LOCK UP THE GENIUS THAT BELIZE NEEDS!!!
    DON`T GIVE UP CUBAN BROTHER, PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP.

  7. oilhunter says:

    It is highly possible that this man was recovering crude oil from an old oil well called Eagle # 1 that was drilled in 1994 near Belmopan by a company called Eagle Oil and gas co.
    The following is from statement made by an expert in Belize oil and gas years before BNE drilled it’s first well:

    “Identification of ready-to-drill prospect in Spanish Lookout area, Belmopan, with oil bearing reservoirs at shallow depths that have not been stimulated with modern techniques. It includes one well, Eagle#1, drilled in 1994 that presently flows gassy oil when surface valve is opened.”

    This is highly possible, There is an old oil well in The Toledo district that displays similar behavior when the BOP(Blow out Preventer) is opened.

  8. ANTHONY says:

    That man should be given a job the refine Belize petro.

  9. RT in Vegas says:

    Belizeans learn from this. one man with little resources is doing more than entire Belize Government. If Belize have an exlusive refining contract, they need to revise clauses to allow for ventures like this.

  10. Jimmy Criminal says:

    Could this man have been making bio-diesel with left over cooking oil from the dirty chinee fry chicken restaurants?
    Whatever he made the diesel and kerosene from who cares.
    He should be given the Order of Belize Medal for being so innoventive.
    The government should give him land and equipment and finance so he can produce more but without polution.
    Do you actually think BNE does not pollute. PLEASE GOB quit being stupid.

  11. Victoria says:

    KEEP THE AMERICANS OUT THEN BELIZEANS CAN REFINE THEIR OWN OIL, NO NEED FOR CHEVRON, SHELL, BP ET AL. RELEASE THE MAN AND LET HIM PRODUCE FUEL FOR OUR COUNTRY, BY THE WAY GIVE HIM BELIZE CITIZENSHIP, IAN’T BELIZE AN ALLY OF CUBA???, THESE DUMB @$$ POLICE OFFICER AND PHONY ENVIRONMENTAL PEOPLE, AS A MATTER OF FACT THE ENVIRONMENTAL PEOPLE HAS NO CLUE AS HOW TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT, BET AN AMERICAN WENT DOWN THERE AND START THIS WHOLE ENVIRONMENT ISSUES WHEN THEY CANT EVEN CLEAN UP THEIR BACK YARD, I AM ANOT ANTI AMERICAN BUT I AM TIRED OF THEIR BS AROUND THE WORLD

  12. Sasha says:

    This is what happens when we have LAZY BELIZEANS sitting on their BUTT. Someone comes along and takes what is yours.

  13. islandboy70 says:

    This clearly shows that Belize has lots of oil!! Now we need the right leaders (not corrupt ones as we are use to) to take advantage of this for all Belizeans. Not to fill their pockets and allow foreigners to reap all the profits.

  14. Steve says:

    It is very sad. The foreigners running the oil industry in Spanish Lookout are legally looting Bze of this black gold and enriching themselves and giving a mere pittance of this lucrative business to Belize. The Cuban running into problem with the law for showing Bzeans what can be done with the oil industry, is simply telling us that oil can be refined in Belize. Western countries discourage setting a refinery because they want third world countries to remain poor and backward and to continue exporting their crude oil. At least I figure that the refined diesel found in the clandestine operation is used in Belize and is therefore lessening the flow of foreign exchange. Gov’t should move on to establish a refinery here in Belize. Belize is paying too high a price for refined oil while first world countries are enjoying our crude oil at a cheaper price.

  15. louisville,ky says:

    Come on GOB, you need to release that Scientist and have him educate our young brilliant Belizeans in the important technology of oil refinery and so on. What, are you embarassed that a foreigner is showing you all up to be a bunch of crooked dummies? Stop talking about poverty alleviation and do something about sharing this wealth that God’s goodness gave to the Jewel. It could actually transform the killing fields which are the mean streets of south side Belize City. Think about it.

  16. marco says:

    Wow!! I always praise Cubans for being so humble and intelligent. Good Grief what cant we learn from these people and apply to our country? Government stifling progress is right. That is what they do at all nooks and corners but mind you someone connected to the politician will soon have that oil refinery and it might be named the What Usher Refinery. There is no interest whatsoever, in the government building belize but there is a great move to stifle development and movements like chickens without heads. If you know what I mean: no direction at all!!!!

  17. c says:

    I want to se Alegria on the TV talking about charges when the offshore drilling operations pollute the BArrier reef

  18. Cayobway says:

    Somebody in government did not get thier cut from the profit so they squeal. what the doe need to do since they are sooooo, damm interested in pollution is to require the major gas companies to stick to regulation also when recieving and distributing gas and oil, also regulate the butane company as well.

  19. me says:

    NOW, NOW, NOW. WHAT A WRECK WE ARE. DOE get your act together. Here you are and the Government trying to put a scientist behind bars because of oil refinery. This man should be BIGGED UP, put in the GUINNES BOOK OF RECORDS for showing to all you dumb technocrats who are saying we don’t have the capital to put an oil refinery here, that OIL REFINING can be done and without the millions you all claim to need to do. With all this fuel price flying through the window why don’t the Government put this man in charge of OIL REFINERY IN BELIZE????? INSTEAD OF HAULING HIM TO COURT???? pUT HIM IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PETROLEUM AND GEOLOGY. All a u out deh, we got acres and acres of wasted land here. Cheaper diesel and agriculture can go a far ways, equalling millions and a strong economy. Shrimp farms, fish farms, you name it and cheaper fuel could mean millions. man we can be producing like crazy. Cane industry can be more booming, citrus indusrty more booming. Food producing more booming. Investors will then want to come in and set up shop. Mi pa used to seh, “weh vision lacking d people perish”. See the whole world will never stop eating even thought its economy is falling to pieces. LET D MAN GO AND EMPLOY HIM WITH GEOLOGY AND PETROLEUM and give them the mandate to come up with a refinery. THIS IS A BLESSING IN DISGUISE BUT WE NOT SEEING IT. SOMEBODY PLEASE SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE. INSTEAD OF CHARGING THE MAN FOR A MEAGER ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS LET HIM PRODUCE MILLIONS FOR OUR CONTRY. LETS NOT BE PENNY WISE POUND FOOLISH. WAKE UP U ALL!!!!!!!

  20. KIKA says:

    that is true let the man go. he is the best.

  21. KIKA says:

    This is the scientist we need Mr. Barrow. The country is going down in corruption let this man who is doing the refinery here is Belize or home land embrace his creativity and let Belize shine and lets live. If the Mayas were still the ruler I would think this country would have been for the better if they weren’t killed by the Spaniards a thousand years ago. Our old heads are advance they even know how to refine the strong rum rich that quellos distillery with simple equipment. Old heads can do as i Had idea myself but its illegal now. Rum is not imortant as this diesel and kerosene. Lets support this man. He is good and smart for our country’s development.

  22. belizeanpride says:

    just read what martin said” setting up the case as strongly as we can” do this people have no shame man. this cuban is trying to help the economy with some bright idea but the gov. sucks tell you, instead of giving the guy more field to improve his talent and help the nation from going down the drain hires some dumb @$$ people to try bring down the guy. it’s true he’s maybe illegal in the country but for the work his doing to mediate the atrocity this gov is doing let the guy finish his work and bring up the oil refinery to make a better living for all belizeans. open a refiinery and make the guy show us how we can improve our state of disaster from the present gov in place. damn!!!

  23. junkman says:

    all of the above needs to be consider mr. prime minister just think what we have in our hands the man is like gold for us DEAN OLIVER BARROW FOR THE LOVE OF COUNTRY AND FUTURE GENERATION LET YOUR NAME GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE MAN WHO HAD THE ….. TO SAY WE WILL PRODUCE OUR OWN OIL DIESEL KEROSENE GASOLENE AND OF COURSE TAR THE BYPRODUCT OF CRUDE OIL THANK YOU SIR FOR SEEING THE LIGHT BEFORE THE CANDLE OUT THANK YOU

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