Tuesday, June 25, 2024

New refinery to operate at full capacity by mid-2023: AMLO

The Dos Bocas refinery on the Tabasco coast will be operating at full capacity by the middle of next year, President López Obrador predicted Tuesday.

López Obrador opened the new Pemex facility – officially called the Olmeca Refinery – in July, even though it was unfinished.

He told reporters at his regular news conference on Tuesday that the refinery is currently in an “integration phase.”

“It’s a magnificent project. There’s not another project, another refinery, like it in the world,” López Obrador said, adding that it will process 340,000 barrels of crude per day once fully operational.

Pemex's newly built Olmeca refinery in Tabasco, Mexico
The distillation plant at the new Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco. (Photo: Refinería Olmeca-Dos Bocas/Facebook)

“… It’s now finished, it’s in an integration phase, … but I expect it will be producing at full capacity next year, … the middle of next year at the latest,” he said.

In 2019, the government scrapped a bidding process to build the new refinery on the grounds that the bids submitted by private companies were too high and they would take too long to complete it. Pemex and the Energy Ministry were subsequently given responsibility for the project.

“When the project was put out to tender, the large refinery construction companies wanted us to accept its completion in 2025, but we said: ‘No, we have to finish it by 2023 at the latest,’ and that’s what’s happening,” López Obrador said Tuesday.

He said that the refinery would cost about US $11 billion in total – significantly less than some estimates – and help Mexico become self-sufficient for gasoline and diesel by the end of next year.

Deer Park Refinery owned by Pemex in Texas
The president’s plan to restore Mexico’s oil self-sufficiency not only includes the new Olmeca refinery but also upgrading existing refineries and buying the former Shell Deer Park Refinery in Texas. (Photo: Pemex Deer Park/Facebook)

López Obrador emphasized that his government has invested in the oil sector, and asserted that its predecessors neglected it.

In addition to building the Dos Bocas refinery, the current government has invested in Pemex’s existing refineries and purchased Shell Oil Company’s share of a jointly-owned refinery in Texas.

“The corrupt neoliberals bet on selling crude oil and buying gasoline. They didn’t build a new refinery in 40 years, something incredible,” López Obrador said.

“I always said it was like producing oranges, selling oranges and buying orange juice. The oil was taken [out of the country], processed in foreign refineries and then they sold us gasoline,” he said. 

Pemex employees in Mexico circa 1940-1950
President López Obrador asserts that he is “rescuing” Pemex from decades of neglect. He notes that Mexico was self-sufficient for gasoline from the time the country’s oil industry was nationalized in 1938 until the early 1980s. (Photo: INAH)

López Obrador, a staunch energy nationalist who was born and raised in oil-rich Tabasco, added that Mexico was self-sufficient for gasoline from the time the country’s oil industry was nationalized in 1938 until the early 1980s.

He has asserted that his government is “rescuing” Pemex from years of neglect and is determined to reinvigorate the economy of Mexico’s southeast with large-scale infrastructure projects, including the refinery, the Maya Train railroad project and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec trade corridor.

Many analysts have been critical of the government’s decision to build the Dos Bocas refinery, arguing that the project diverts resources from Pemex’s more profitable exploration business.

With reports from Sin Embargo 

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