QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica’s State refinery, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo (RECOPE), cannot venture into the use of hydrogen fuel technologies for transport, a project developed in conjunction with the company of Costa Rican astronaut Franklin Chang, Ad Astra Rocket, concluded the Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República in Spanish).
The Minister of Environment and Energy (MINAE), Edgar Gutiérrez, released the information Tuesday, saying he was notified on Monday by the Procuraduría.
“Yesterday (Monday) we received the response of the Attorney telling us RECOPE cannot venture into anything other than hydrocarbons,” said Gutierrez on the radio program Nuestra Voz.
The minister said he is hoping the Legislative Assembly will approve a new law that empowers RECOPE to dabble in alternative energy.
Gutierrez said what is required is an amendment to the law because the country needs an institution to investigate new energy to save on oil imports.
The president of RECOPE, Sara Salazar, said that the institution consulted with the Attorney General following a report by the Comptroller’s office (Contraloría General de la República – CGR) that indicated RECOPE lacked the legal capacity to research the production and processing of biofuels. The report stated a legal reform is required.
The delays led a frustrated Ad Astra to end its two and half year business relationship with RECOPE, during which time both companies invested about US$2 million dollars in the hydrogen project.
But, not all is lost.
On March 12, legislator for the Frente Amplio (FA) party, Egardo Araya and Michael Arce of the Liberación (PLN), presented a bill to empower RECOPE to continue with the hydrogen project.
On Monday, legislators approved a motion to question the Minister of the Environment, in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of RECOPE, on the breakdown of the relationship with Ad Astra.