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09/20/11 08:48 AM
09/20/11 08:48 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,480
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Details are still sketchy but reports to Love News Centre are that a routine search for firearm and ammunition in Western Belize today has turned up a clandestine oil refinery distillery that makes kerosene and diesel in industrial and commercial quantity. We understand that heavy duty equipment was also found in the area. Samples of the substances collected from the distillery were collected. The person present at the search was detained. We understand he had a Cuban passport however he is in the country illegally. He was also in possession of permanent residency card from the USA.


09/20/11 09:34 AM
09/20/11 09:34 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 13,499
San Pedro Belize
elbert Offline
elbert  Offline
Wow! Black market fuel, I never thought of that!
Cubans are very innovative!
How much a gallon??
I see potential!

White Sands Dive Shop
09/20/11 09:17 PM
09/20/11 09:17 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,480
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Sep 20, 2011

The Department of the Environment is investigating the discovery of what is
called quote, “a clandestine oil refinery” on the outskirts of Belmopan.
The discovery was made on Monday here at this dilapidated refining
operation about a mile off the Western Highway near mile forty-seven, just
three miles from the nation’s capital. The dirt road which leads to the
Belize Christian Academy and further back, in very bad condition at some
spots – also bears this sign in Spanish that basically says no trespassing.
Once on the compound, the signs of refining operations were apparent, with
equipment and tanks on site. It is an operation that the Department of the
Environment knew nothing about and today its Chief, Martin Alegria, told
Love News what they’re looking at in their investigations.

 Martin Alegria - Chief Environmental Officer
"From the briefing I’ve gotten from my technicians and my officer is that
it is a one man show, small operation, has been refining some of the crude,
small amounts in order to produce diesel. If you go to the Environmental
Act and the regulations there under it says that the EIA regulations for
example, it has refining as under schedule one, that they must go through
an environmental impact assessment and the whole issue of how big it is,
the volume being produced is addressed in the terms of reference of those
studies that needs to be done but inevitably it does call for one which is
a clear violation.”

Marion Ali - Reporter
What are the penalties?

Martin Alegria - Chief Environmental Officer
“Not doing an EIA and having started an initiative I think it is between 50
and 100 thousand or 20 to 50. Depending on what it is and what stage it
is, the area is not the best environmentally or health wise kept and the
whole operation apparently has been going on for a while. They are
investigating those issues how it came to happen, how it came to happen to
how close we are.”

Alegria explains why his department is concerned over the illegal

Martin Alegria - Chief Environmental Officer
"If you look around you see oil around the place. I guess it is because of
the lack of equipment, the lack of procedure, of maintenance, it looks bad.
Cleaning up will take a while and some funding and some technology. We
are talking about the processing, storage is another issue. How do you
store the crude, how do you store the sludge that comes out of it, how do
you get rid of that, how do you store the produced product at the end of
the day, diesel or gasoline, how do you store it, how do you transport it.
I am just mentioning a few of the things that needs to be addressed let’s
say in the EIA process before you undertake it so start your plan
accordingly and wisely but we are investigating.”

The operation is not a large scale one, but its environmental effects could
be major, and that is why Alegria says his Department is also looking at
ways of holding the local petroleum provide to bear when it sells its
product locally.

Martin Alegria - Chief Environmental Officer
“I know that the provider at this stage sells internationally 90 something
percent of its product and locally the rest. This gives us the Department
of the Environment something to think about, where is the local sales
going; secondly, what is being done with this, is it for a particular
purpose, how much, I think we have some of it but not who and where it is
going and what it is being used for., Those are things that might now fall
under the purview of the Department of the Environment but it is something
that we need to address.”

We wanted to address the issue first hand, at least for the news when we
got there today, but there was no one we could talk to, as the only person
we were told operates the refinery, a Cuban, is in police custody because
he is said to be in Belize illegally. He has a Cuban passport but also
possesses a US residency card and with Monday’s impromptu police raid at
the location and subsequent discovery, they have now informed Interpol
about the Cuban and his operation in Belize.

Story at

09/30/11 08:03 AM
09/30/11 08:03 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,480
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Clandestine Refinery Busted

Every time you go to the gas pump and see the skyrocketing prices - you probably lament the fact that Belize does not refine its own oil. But, a makeshift operation in Western Belize seems to have gotten over that hurdle and was refining kerosene and diesel, according to the Department Of The Environment. But now they're in trouble because they did so without a permit or any kind of clearance. Police got wind of the clandestine operation and searched the location north of Belize Christian Academy 11 days ago. They found 55 year old Cuban Roberto Igarza Velazquez, a mechanic who'd set up a lo-tech refinery with rotoplast tanks, pipes and hoses.

They also found a full 55 gallon drum full with diesel refined at the site. There were also Heavy duty machines such as bulldozers, Tractors and Cranes on the property which the DOE tells us is owned by Sydley Leslie. According to the DOE, the operation was small, and they estimate that it would produce about a 55 gallon drum of diesel every three days.

And though primitive tools including kitchen utensils were used, information suggests that it had been in operation for over a year, and all told the DOEs estimates that there was more than fifty thousand dollars worth of equipment in the area.

The question is where was it getting crude oil from? We spoke to a BNE representative who told us they know nothing about it and suggested that the crude may have been extracted form an old oil well called Eagle One outside Belmopan.

But the DOE investigated and they say that Eagle one is closed down and they suspect that the operation used crude from BNE. The DOE also suspects that there are monied interests involved and say that someone has to be made to account for the pollution which will take between 50 to 100 thousand dollars to clean up.

As for Roberto Igarza Velazquez, he isn't saying much, but he is in trouble because the Salvapan resident arrived in Belize from Cuba three years ago and never renewed his six month visa.

More than that, he carried a US Permanent Residency Card which has been reported to the US Embassy. According to police, the Department of Environment, Immigration and INTERPOL are investigating the matter.

Channel 7

10/01/11 07:52 AM
10/01/11 07:52 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,480
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Oil Refinery Was Rustic But Really Worked

Police today made pictures available of the makeshift oil refinery which was found near Belmopan 12 days ago.

The photos show a very primitive operation but a reasonably well outfitted one that is estimated to have been able to produce a 55 gallon drum of diesel or kerosene every three days.

Police believe that it was operated by 55 year old Cuban mechanic Roberto Igarza Velazquez but the Department of the Environment says that he definitely had someone backing him. They estimate that upwards of fifty thousand dollars was invested in the operation - which they estimate to have been producing diesel and kerosene without any kind of permit or clearance for a year.

The DOE surmises that there's no way Igarza Velasquez could have been on his own - but so far he's the only suspect they have. They also believe that he somehow acquired crude oil from Belize Natural energy to refine. BNE says they know nothing about the operation. He faces multiple offences and environmental fines for pollutions and failing to get an environmental impact assessment. He also faces immigration charges as he is presently in the country illegally and is in possession of a dubious US permanent residency card.

Channel 7

10/01/11 07:55 AM
10/01/11 07:55 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,480
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

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.

Channel 5

10/01/11 08:03 AM
10/01/11 08:03 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 80,480
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Secret oil refinery busted in Belmopan

A search for firearms and ammunition in an area near the Belize Christian Academy about a mile off the Western Highway — and situated north on the Banana Bank road, just west of the George Price Boulevard in Belmopan City — led authorities to the discovery of a secret oil field with a functioning oil refinery.

Present at the time of the search was a Cuban, Roberto Igarza Velasquez, 56, a mechanic of Calle Las Americas, Salvapan area, Belmopan City, who is living in the country illegally.

We were told this morning that Velasquez had been detained and has since been charged by Belmopan police for embarking on a project without applying to the Environmental Department, and also, for carelessly causing a disaster. It was not explained what the “disaster” was.

Currently, Velasquez is in prison and is due back in court next week, Wednesday, October 5, when it is expected the additional charges will be levied against him depending on the results of a hydro-carbonic lab analysis from samples collected from the distillery’s collecting drums.

When police visited the private property, Mount Pleasant River Estate, on September 18, they went looking for firearms, but instead found what appeared to be a secret oil refinery for the purpose of producing products such as kerosene and diesel.

It was also observed that the distillery consisted of metallic busser storage, protoplast tanks, pipes and hoses.

Following Velasquez’s arrest, the police searched his home in Salvapan, and it was there that they learned that Velasquez had been living in Belize illegally. Police also found his two Cuban passports and United States residency card; these were seized.

This morning, Thursday, Amandala visited the area, where we met two Hispanic men who said that they had been sent there by a “lady” (they could not tell us who the woman was). She had sent them to cover two oil wells that had been drilled for the extraction of petroleum (crude oil), because it was going to rain. The wells appeared filled with black, tar-looking, thick crude oil.

The men said they were unaware of the illegality of the situation, and told us that the “man” who usually makes checks at the place had not come in for about three days (Velasquez was remanded on Friday).

Also, the men told us that the property is not owned by the “man”, but is a rented property. Other sources in the area told us that the oil refinery has existed for about three years. One source also told us that there was always heavy vehicular traffic in the area, as if though profitable business was conducted in the area.

According to police, the kerosene and diesel were found in industrial quantities, but this morning, the tanks at the oil refinery distillery were empty. We also observed a bulldozer on the property, which appeared to be well-kept.

Our source told us that the owner of the private property will be located and charged. As for Velasquez, we understand that his case has been handed over to the Department of Environment, Immigration and the INTERPOL.

The first discovery of crude oil in Belize was made in 2005 in Spanish Lookout, Cayo District, by Belize Natural Energy (BNE). Reportedly; the wells produce about 5,000 barrels per day.


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