China’s ambassador to Mexico said on Monday that two Chinese banks are providing US $600 million to build the new oil refinery on the Tabasco coast, but the federal government said it was unaware of any such arrangement.
Zhu Qingqiao told reporters at an event in Mexico City that the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China – two of China’s “big four” state-owned banks – are providing financing for the Dos Bocas refinery, one of President López Obrador’s signature infrastructure projects.
However, a spokesman for the Secretariat of Energy (Sener) told the news agency Reuters that all of the funds for the US $8 billion project are coming from the Mexican government.
Just under 90 billion pesos (US $4.8 billion) has been allocated for the construction of the refinery in 2020 and 2021 after 25 billion pesos went to the project last year. Construction began on June 1, 2019 and President López Obrador has pledged that the refinery will be completed in three years.
He gave state oil company Pemex and Sener responsibility for building the facility after scrapping the bidding process because the bids made by private companies were too high and their estimated timeframes to complete the project were too long.
However, private companies including United States’ engineering firms Fluor and KBR, and South Korea’s Samsung Engineering, will collaborate with the government on the project.
Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle suggested that the financing might have been arranged by a company or a subcontractor involved in the project, but said she was unaware of the arrangement.
“We are not being backed by any bank,” she said.
Once open, the refinery is expected to process 340,000 barrels per day of Mexico’s flagship grade, Maya heavy crude.