Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador - who represents a coalition of the left-wing PRD, PT and Convergenia parties - called for the construction of five refineries as part of his energy policy proposal laid out on Monday (Apr 9).
The five refineries include the US$11bn-plus Tula refinery in Hidalgo state, for which state oil company Pemex is already tendering for engineering, as well as another refinery in Guanajuato state where the NOC plans to expand the Salamanca refinery. The Tula refinery is meant to be fully operational by mid-2016 with capacity to process more than 250,000b/d, while the Salamanca expansion is supposed to conclude in 2015 with an extra 70,000b/d capacity.
Additional projects in López Obrador's proposal are a refining train alongside the current Salina Cruz refinery in Oaxaca state, another refinery in Dos Bocas, Tabasco state for light and super-light crude, and a fifth refinery in Atasta, Campeche state.
"All this to stop importing 500,000b/d of fuels, which means paying [...] US$26bn per year," López Obrador said, according to a transcript.
The Tula and Salamanca projects are part of Pemex's plan to decrease fuel imports. Gasoline imports account for close to 50% of sales. Pemex's CEO Juan José Suárez Coppel said last year he hopes by 2016 for Pemex to reduce imports to 34% of sales and, including alliances outside Mexico, supply 80% of demand. Demand is expected to grow at an annual rate of 4.5% through that year.
López Obrador's policy would aim to cease exporting crude completely and refine it in-country to add value. He also called for investment in the petrochemical industry to halt its "deterioration" and thus "little by little, stop depending on the external market."
Among López Obrador's other proposals were: investment in oil exploration to maintain the crude reserve replacement ratio at 100%; prioritization of national companies as providers for Pemex's goods and services; greater R&D investment by Mexico's national petroleum institute (IMP); and cleansing Pemex of corruption.
Mexico holds presidential and congressional elections in July 2012.
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(Originally published April 10, 2012, by Business News Americas.)