It never gets completely dark in Colonia El Carmen, home to Mexico's largest natural gas processing center, in the poor southern state of Chiapas. After sunset, a red glare emanates from flares dotted around the Cactus gas processing center, run by state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
The complex is unable to process the vast volume of gas emitted as a byproduct of oil production and disposes of the excess by flaring it, a widespread industry practice that scientists said is detrimental to the environment.
Burning the excess gas is cheaper than investing in infrastructure to capture, process and transport it for other uses. But in addition to carbon dioxide, flaring releases methane, a more potent greenhouse gas.
In its last quarterly report, Pemex acknowledged that 13% of gas that comes to the surface as a byproduct of oil production is currently wasted - much higher than the 2% limit set by regulators.
(Photo Editing Kezia Levitas; Text Editing Daniel Flynn and Marguerita Choy; Graphics by Chris Canipe; Layout Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson)