Having failed last Friday to shut down the facility, the mayor of Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico, on Wednesday sought to negotiate tax revenues and a new gas transmission pipeline link with Sempra Energy's Energia Costa Azul liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal along the Pacific Coast just north of the port city.

While allowing that he cannot shut down the plant, Mayor Enrique Pelayo Torres still talked about the San Diego energy holding company committing "irregularities" in the development of its $875 million, 1 Bcf/d facility. Pelayo Torres seeks to place various safety related requirements on the plant, such as establishing a buffer zone, disclosing related gas pipeline routes, and having fire and paramedic personnel on the site.

Since taking office Nov. 30, Pelayo Torres had refused to meet with Sempra LNG officials, a San Diego-based spokesperson for the company told NGI Wednesday.

"He has not previously requested support for any of the items listed in his media statement," said the spokesperson, referring to the mayor's request to negotiate a tax the LNG facility would pay, along with having Sempra build a gas pipeline to serve industrial customers in the city of 260,000.

Pelayo Torres is said to have alleged "permit irregularities" when he attempted to shut the facility last Friday (see Daily GPI, Feb. 16). Mexican officials quickly moved to thwart the attempt.

The most important aspect of the latest developments is that Pelayo Torres now is talking about negotiating, the Sempra spokesperson said, without speculating on whether the company would accede to any of his demands.

"The LNG terminal operates with all required permits," the spokesperson said. "It pays all taxes required by Mexican law and its employees actively participate in charitable giving programs that benefit the citizens of Ensenada."

For his part, Pelayo Torres said he won't "politicize the case," but he stressed that Sempra will have "to sit at a table, we will have to rectify the situation, and we will give them the opportunity to regularize the situation."

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