The United States government has approved Pemex’s purchase of Shell Oil Company’s share of the jointly-owned Deer Park oil refinery near Houston, Texas.
President López Obrador told reporters at his regular news conference on Wednesday that authorization was granted Tuesday.
“It’s very good news,” he said after describing the purchase as “historic.”
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States gave the green light to the purchase after determining there were no unresolved national security concerns.
López Obrador announced in May that the state oil company would buy Shell’s 50% share in the refinery, which has been a joint venture with Pemex since 1993.
The total outlay for Shell’s share will be US $1.192 billion, a figure that includes the purchase price and settlement of refinery debt.
López Obrador said that the acquisition of Shell’s share will help keep fuel prices down. Upgrades to Pemex’s six existing refineries in Mexico will be completed next year and the new Dos Bocas refinery on the Tabasco coast will begin operations soon after, he added.
With eight refineries, Mexico will have the capacity to process 1.2 million barrels of crude per day by 2023, López Obrador said.
“It will mean producing all our fuel in Mexico,” he said, apparently temporarily forgetting the Deer Park refinery.
“It’s an important change of direction with regard to oil policy. For many years Mexico didn’t buy gasoline, it was produced here … [but] the policy changed – selling raw materials [crude] and buying gasoline [from abroad] was opted for and that’s going to change,” López Obrador said.
Pemex CEO Octavio Romero emphasized that Mexico, through the state oil company, will become the owner of the Texas refinery, located about 30 kilometers east of Houston near Galveston Bay in the western Gulf of Mexico. The money for the purchase will come from the National Infrastructure Fund and it will be finalized in early 2022, Romero said.
The Pemex chief noted that the Deer Park facility has the capacity to process 340,000 barrels of crude per day and is the 16th biggest of 129 oil refineries in the United States. Fuel can be shipped from Texas to Mexico via train and petroleum tankers.
López Obrador has made strengthening the heavily indebted state oil company and achieving self sufficiency for fuel central aims of his administration.
But some analysts have questioned the wisdom of investing in refineries, arguing that doing so diverts resources from Pemex’s more profitable oil exploration business.