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Mexico Closes Cabo San Lucas Pacific Coast Port Amid Tsunami

Mexico closed the port of San Lucas on the Pacific Coast because of the widespread tsunami warning after Japan was hit by its strongest earthquake on record.

Two other ports -- Salina Cruz and Chiapas -- were shut for bad weather unrelated to the temblor, the Merchant Marine said today in a bulletin on its website. Small boats were banned from operating at all remaining Pacific Coast ports, while bigger vessels were still allowed to move about freely, Alejandro Chacon, the Merchant Marine’s general coordinator, said in a news conference today in Mexico City.

Latin American governments from Mexico to Chile have put Pacific coast communities and ports on tsunami alerts. More than 20 countries were told to brace for possible tidal waves after Japan’s coast was engulfed by water following an earthquake. Mexico has the longest Pacific Coast shoreline in the Americas.

The oil export terminals of Cayo Arcas and Dos Bocas on the Gulf of Mexico were reopened this afternoon after being closed yesterday because of inclement weather, such as high winds.

Petroleos Mexicanos, the second-largest supplier of oil to the U.S., exported 1.361 million barrels of crude a day in 2010. About 84 percent, or 1.139 million barrels, was sold to the U.S. last year, according to Pemex statistics. Canada is the largest supplier of crude to the U.S.

Gulf of Mexico

Cayo Arcas is the Mexico City-based company’s largest export terminal, followed by Coatzacoalcos and Dos Bocas, respectively. Pemex exports oil from the Gulf of Mexico ports, which occasionally close during hurricane season and in winter. The port of Coatzacoalcos remained open.

Pemex exported 958,798 barrels a day from Cayo Arcas; 156,514 barrels a day from Coatzacoalcos; and 99,196 barrels a day from Dos Bocas in 2009. Cayo Arcas handles Maya crude, a cheaper grade of heavy sour crude used by refineries in Texas. Coatzacoalcos is used to export Maya and Olmeca grade crudes.

“Sweet” and “sour” refer to the oil’s sulfur content, while “heavy,” “medium” and “light” refer to its density.

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