During the first quarter of the year, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) ended a four-year streak of losing market in the sale of gasoline and diesel, coinciding with increased local production of oil products and amid complaints from private importers and marketers. by increasing obstacles of authority that limit their business.

Through its own production and imports, from January to March, Pemex satisfied 82% of the apparent national consumption of gasoline (production, plus imports, minus exports), which was 725,000 barrels per day, which meant an increase of two percentage points with in relation to the first quarter of 2021, according to calculations based on the data reported by the Ministry of Energy (Sener) in its Energy Information System.

During the first quarter of the year, Pemex’s production grew 15.7% to 284,000 barrels per day, while its imports rose 9.3% to 314,000 barrels per day, so that its supply grew 12.3% to 598,000 barrels per day.

The energy reform of 2013 instructed the opening to private competition in all phases of the hydrocarbon value chain, but it was not until 2016 that the possibility for private parties to import fuels directly became effective and until 2018 that the private ones began to take away the market from Pemex, which had been happening every year until 2022.

Taking the first quarters of each year as a reference, in 2021 private companies achieved their maximum market share, contributing 20% ​​of the supply to satisfy apparent consumption, a figure that fell to 18% as of March 2022, after its imports fell 3% to 133,000 barrels per day on average.

In the case of diesel, Pemex’s market share went from 70 to 77% of apparent demand, which was 303,000 barrels per day in March. This jump reflected, above all, the 21% increase in the oil company’s production to 150,000 barrels per day, since its imports fell 4.7% to 83,000 barrels per day, on average.

The volume of this product brought by private companies to the country from abroad fell, for its part, by 21.8 percent. As in the case of gasoline, 2021 had been the best for private importers since the market opened, as they managed to get 30% of the market. The government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has set itself the goal of having Pemex fully supply the Mexican market again, for which it has earmarked investments for the reconditioning of its six refineries, the construction of a new one in Dos Bocas, Tabasco, and the purchase of one more, in Deer Park, Texas (which was a joint venture with the Dutch Shell.

Obstacles to permits

With this goal in mind, in December 2020 Sener modified the rules for granting fuel import permits, eliminating permits valid for 20 years, which, according to the Federal Economic Competition Commission, undermines the incentives for build storage projects, which require long-term certainty in order to be financed.

Sener’s decree was frozen for several months due to judicial mandates, but last February it was reactivated, after a final verdict established that it could not be suspended with general effects, with which the new suspensions had to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

At the beginning of this month, the United States Senate endorsed a motion to call Mexico for consultations for allegedly failing to comply with its commitments of the United States-Mexico-Canada Treaty (T-MEC) in energy matters, after multiple complaints from companies and politicians – both Democrats and Republicans – for the policies of the Obradorista administration aimed at favoring Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission, to the detriment of private competitors, several of them with US capital.

The 2013 energy reform instructed the opening to private competition in all phases of the hydrocarbon value chain, but it was not until 2016 that the possibility for private parties to import fuels directly became effective.

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