The modernization of Mexico’s six existing oil refineries, the construction of a new one on the Tabasco coast and the purchase of one in the United States are crucial to achieving energy self-sufficiency, President López Obrador reiterated during a tour of the Pemex refinery in Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas.
The president said his administration is seeking to increase Mexico’s refining capacity so that importing gasoline is no longer necessary. He has previously pledged that the country will be self-sufficient in gasoline by 2023, the year the Dos Bocas refinery in Paraíso, Tabasco, is slated to start operations.
“Just imagine! If a foreign nation decided not to sell gasoline to us it would be chaos, we only have reserves for 10 days,” López Obrador said in Ciudad Madero on Friday.
Mexico must aim for self-sufficiency in food and fuel so that it’s not dependent on “any foreign nation” or “any power,” he said, apparently referring to the United States.
“We’re carrying out a profound change in … petroleum policy; the fundamental objective is to no longer sell crude oil [to foreign refineries] … but rather process all the raw material in our country,” López Obrador said.
The president asserted that the quest for self-sufficiency will generate jobs in Mexico and rejected any suggestion that buying gasoline abroad is cheaper.
“It’s much better to produce what we consume, not bring it [into the country],” he declared, noting that the cost of transporting gasoline into Mexico increases its retail price.
During his refinery visit, López Obrador also sought to reassure Pemex workers that their jobs and working conditions are safe while he remains in office.
“There won’t be any dismissals, we’re not going to tear up your collective contract. You’ll retire at the age agreed to in the contract,” he said. Previous governments had planned to increase the retirement age.
“… We’re also going to ensure that there is union democracy, that everyone … decides who they want to represent them. No more corrupt leaders but rather leaders that represent you and defend you,” the president said.
López Obrador also visited the Pemex refineries in Salamanca, Guanajuato, and Tula, Hidalgo, over the weekend.
The other refineries currently being upgraded are located in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca; Minatitlán, Veracruz; and Cadereyta, Nuevo León.
López Obrador announced in May that Pemex had reached a deal to buy Shell Oil Company’s 50% share in the jointly-owned Deer Park oil refinery near Houston, Texas, for US $600 million. The president is aiming to boost the role the state oil company and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) play in Mexico’s energy market, at the expense of private and foreign companies that entered after the previous federal government opened up the sector.
He sent a constitutional bill to Congress in October that seeks to guarantee 54% of the electricity market to the CFE but a vote on the proposed reform has been pushed back to next April.