Mexico´s Pemex aims for gasoline self sufficiency in 2024 after reverting declines

Mexican state oil refiner and petrochemical producer Pemex has reverted a decade of plunging gasoline production and plans to reach self sufficiency to meet all future motor fuel needs for the country with its own assets by 2024, the general director of Pemex, Octavio Romero Oropeza, said in a mid-March presentation.

Image by Renzo Pipoli

Pemex plans “to close 2024 practically with self sufficiency” in gasoline, Romero Oropeza said after describing company efforts to revert fuel production declines, with the lowest point in 2019, he said.

Petroleos Mexicanos, as the company is called, saw production improvement at its six refineries in the last couple of years. This contributed more output but the significant improvement came with the early 2022 completion of the purchase from Shell of the 340,000 barrel-per-day capacity refinery located in Deer Park, just south of Houston.

Pemex executives project that 2024 will be the year that will mark self sufficiency and this once the new Dos Bocas refinery, a plant with 340,000 bpd refining capacity in the southern state of Tabasco, reaches full production rates. That startup has been announced for July 2023.

Declining crude production

In 2004 Pemex reached its highest historical crude oil production at nearly 3.4 million barrels of crude oil but by November 2018, the month before Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador started his six-year term, production had declined to 1.7 million barrels per day.

“In January 2019 we hit bottom with 1,642,000 barrels per day,” Romero Oropeza said. That decline in crude oil production resulted from a single field, Cantarell, steadily and slowly declining output from its peak of as much as two million barrels per day back in 2004.

Romero said that from January to March 2023 Mexican crude oil production was 1.9 million barrels per day, with plans to reach two million barrels later this year.

“That would be the goal that the president of the republic has indicated that we need to stay because with those two million we are guaranteeing self sufficiency in our country,” Romero said.

As for natural gas, Pemex had produced up to 6.5 Bcf per day in 2009, declining to 3.8 Bcf in 2018. “On the average, Jan-Mar, we are at 4.159 Bcf,”  Romero Oropeza said.

Pemex refineries

“In 2004 the six refineries in the country were processing 1,300,000 barrels per day and that was more or less sustained until 2009, when it fell to 1,084,000 bpd. And it was kept there until 2014, and starting with the energy reform of 2015 you can see how it fell on the side of investment (…) we received 519,000 (..) in six refineries,”  Romero Oropeza said. Romero Oropeza became director of Pemex after the start of the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in Dec. 2018.

“With the rehabilitation program (…) we started to generate a bigger processing of crude. 592,000 barrels per day in 2018 (…) then in 2021 712, and, in 2022, 816,000 bpd,” he said.

The addition of the Deer Park production capacity in Texas, after the transaction was completed early in 2022, represented a significant change in Pemex production.

“We are at one million, 1,100,000 barrels of daily crude processing  between January and March(…) More or less we are in the same as in March, around 1.2 million barrels,” he said.

Gasoline production rates

“In 2004 there was production in our six refineries of 853,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel (…) We received in 2018 300,000 barrels of gasoline production, after reaching 853,000 barrels,” Romero Oropeza added.

Motor fuel production in all of the six refineries owned by Pemex were 362,000 bpd around “the year of Covid,” Romero Oropeza said.

“But in 2021 we were already at 379,000 bpd in the six refineries, in 2022 at 450,000 bpd plus Deer Park, so that our country produces 686,000 bpd” currently, he said.

“In March we will average, according to projections, 720,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel and turbo in the six refineries and Deer Park,” he added.

Reduced imports

“In 2018 we received imports of 900,000 bpd and production of 359,000 bpd. That is practically 80 percent of what was consumed in the country was imported,” Romero Oropeza said.

“In 2023, this year, this is the projection for imports that we have for the full year, 232,000 bpd to close 2024 practically with self sufficiency” in fuels, he added.

Mexico has a population estimated at 126 million.

Startup of Dos Bocas

The Secretary of Energy of Mexico, Rocio Nahle, separately said on March 16 that according to its plan, the startup of the new Dos Bocas refinery in the state of Tabasco will be carried out in two stages with the first beginning in July and the second in September.

Nahle said during a press conference at the central government headquarters that the final cost of the new Dos Bocas refinery was estimated at $12.6 billion.

The Mexican government announced completion of construction in 2022.

By Renzo Pipoli