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MEXICO CITY, July 13 (Reuters) - Mexico's oil regulator approved on Thursday a force majeure request from Canada's Renaissance Oil Corp that will allow the firm to suspend operations at its onshore Ponton area while a dispute over environmental damages at the site plays out.
Renaissance has claimed that environmental damages that pre-date its operations at Ponton have impeded its development plans.
Renaissance won development rights for the Ponton block at auction last year.
The area was previously operated by national oil company Pemex before a sweeping energy reform finalized in 2014 forced the Mexican oil giant to give up many of its fields to allow for a series of auctions that have attracted new producers.
The force majeure approval safeguards the Canadian oil company's rights to the area as Pemex's challenge to the claim of environmental damages at the site under its watch is handled by Mexico's oil safety agency ASEA.
The regulator did not provide a timeline for when the challenge would be resolved.
Renaissance was co-founded in 2014 by Ian Telfer, chairman of Goldcorp Inc., the biggest gold miner in Mexico.
The firm won several onshore blocks last year, and has said it would like to operate additional projects in Mexico, including possible onshore tie-ups with Pemex. (Reporting by Adriana Barrera; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Sandra Maler)