Mexico's Pemex mulls crude imports, more exports to India, Japan

Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:00am EDT
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By David Alire Garcia and Ana Isabel Martinez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Pemex PEMX.UL is considering crude imports to boost local refinery output, but at the same time, it expects to sell more oil to India and Japan to diversify its export markets.

The state-owned company could begin imports of light and intermediate crudes as early as this year to improve production of higher-value refined products like gasoline, Jose Manuel Carrera, chief executive officer of its P.M.I. Comercio Internacional oil trading arm, said in an interview.

Mexico, the world's 10th-largest crude oil producer, has very rarely imported the commodity, instead preferring a decades-long self-sufficiency. Still, it must import about half of its gasoline due to flagging refinery output at home.

"Pemex is analyzing in great detail how to optimize the diet of its national refining system with imported crudes ... both light and intermediate," Carrera told Reuters.

P.M.I. officials say crude imports would not exceed 20 percent of a refinery's crude-processing capacity.

The company also aims to produce less fuel oil as Mexico's power sector increasingly substitutes cheaper natural gas for the generation of electricity, said Carrera.

"Given the changing structure of demand in Mexico, it's important to adjust the diet of our refineries," he added.

Carrera said the timing of any crude imports remained unclear. He emphasized that P.M.I. was looking at light and intermediate grade crudes from West Africa, Colombia and the Middle East, not just the United States.   Continued...

The logo of Mexican petroleum company Pemex is seen at their gas station in Mexico City November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido