In the beginning ...
The Gulf of Mexico Research Consortium (CIGoM) was founded in 2015 as a consortium of scientific research and consulting services. It specializes in multidisciplinary projects related to potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas industry, in the marine ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico. This initiative arose from the shared ideas of a group of scientists and PEMEX's staff, due to the lack of information to understand and act in case of possible large scale oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.
Who are we?
The core of the consortium is composed by a group of experienced personnel, specialized and trained, including more than
Researchers actively involved
from the most recognized research and education Mexican institutions:
CONACYT / Ministry of Energy's Hydrocarbons Fund Project
Currently the CIGoM develops the project “Implementación de redes de observación oceanográficas (físicas, geoquímicas, ecológicas) para la generación de escenarios ante posibles contingencias relacionadas a la exploración y producción de hidrocarburos en aguas profundas del Golfo de México”. This endeavour is financed by the Hydrocarbons Fund of the National Council of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Energy. The Hidrocarbons Fund has decided to invest 1500 million pesos, to develop and have ready in 2020, the baseline of the Gulf of Mexico; a monitoring system of the ocean and the atmosphere –by buoys, HF radars, gliders and remote sensing; a deep understanding of the currents of the Gulf of Mexico and behavior of oil in case of spills; state of the art on natural degradation of hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico; and an ability to determine spill scenarios and their potential effect on ecosystems. The project has been organized around these five lines of research:
Baseline and environmental monitoring
Oceanographic campaigns are carried out to collect samples and evaluate changes in the marine environment and the species that inhabit it, from microorganisms to cetaceans. This is to be able to compare the effects of possible contingencies with the current state of the ecosystem.
Oceanographic observation platforms
Led by Dr. Francisco Javier Ocampo Torres, consists of a system of in-situ and remote measurements of the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico. Within its purpose is to provide information to be used in possible contingencies related with the exploration and production of hydrocarbons and other harmful substances in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This line of work includes various technologies such as coastal oceanographic buoys (BOC), oceanographic and marine meteorology buoys (BOMM), submarine gliders and remote sensing (radio escaterometers, radiometers and synthetic aperture radars).
Baseline and environmental monitoring
In charge of the Dr. Sharon Herzka Llona, it intends to establish a baseline of oceanographic, biogeochemical, ecological and biological key variables to assess impacts and design mitigation strategies in cases of spills of great scale, in the area of deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This objective will be achieved through the implementation of oceanographic expeditions, the evaluation of the use of habitat for species of conservation importance as sea turtles, whales or larger pelagic fish, and the monitoring of the coastal ecosystem associated to the meadows of seagrass.
Numerical models of circulation and Biogeochemistry
Led by Dr. Julio Sheinbaum Pardo, it strives to integrate numerical circulation models biogeochemical and ecological models within a system to examine the development, destination and possible effects of significant oil spills, considering different scenarios (magnitude, location, depth, seasonality, hydrocarbon type) to generate risk maps and arrival times that can guide decision making in the event of an actual event.
Natural degradation of hydrocarbons
In charge of Dr. Alexei Fedorovish Licea Navarro, studies the ecosystem's natural response capacity to large scale spills, through the evaluation of the physico-chemical, microbiological and photochemical degradation capacity of different fractions of hydrocarbons through studies under natural and controlled conditions. Also, inteds to assess the microbiological degradation of different Mexican crudes for the native microflora, through the application of remediation techniques.
In charge of Dr. Paula Pérez Brunius, the potential consequences of different oil spills scenarios are examined, considering the role of physical transport and dispersion processes on the destination of oil derivatives in the western deep-sea region of the Gulf of Mexico, and its possible impacts on the ecosystem at different temporal and spatial scales. The study will include field observations, as well as experiments and numerical simulations specifically designed for this purpose. There is a technological development component that includes an unmanned vehicle capable of launching drifting instruments for marking a spot in the event of an accident.