Pemex Falls Short of 2021 Refining Target

Despite increasing refining capacity by 20%, Mexico’s state oil company missed its production goal last year

A worker walks past the Cadereyta refinery in Mexico's Nuevo León state.
February 07, 2022 | 04:40 PM

Mexico City — Mexico’s state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) failed to meet its oil refining target in 2021, despite reducing its target at the end of December, and has not surpassed the psychological barrier of one million refined barrels per day.

The company processed an annual average of 711,600 barrels per day of crude oil at its six refineries, which is 1% lower, or 2,400 barrels fewer, than the estimate of 714,000 units per day it had put forward in a December presentation.

During June, the company headed by Octavio Romero Oropeza told investors it expected to refine an average of 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day, or at least 798,000 units in its most pessimistic scenario.

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The oil company closed December with monthly processing levels of approximately 744,100 barrels per day, 10% below the 831,000 units for the same period forecast by the company in a call with analysts in the second quarter of 2021.

Pemex managed to increase its crude oil processing by 20% compared to the 2020 figure, however.

During 2021, the company faced multiple fires at refineries such as Cadereyta and Minatitlán, in addition to a railroad blockade that paralyzed the mobilization and production of fuels at its Tula refinery, incidents which impacted refining activity, while stoppages broke records so far during the current administration’s six-year term.

Read More: Pemex Refinery Stoppages Hit All-Time High Under AMLO

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) entrusted his Energy Minister Rocío Nahle with the recovery of the country’s installed refining capacity at Pemex’s six refineries to 1.5 million barrels per day, after refining capacity fell below 40% of maximum levels during the six-year term of former President Enrique Peña Nieto, in addition to the construction of his signature project: the Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco, the president’s home state.

The aim of the increase in refining capacity is to put an end to fuel imports.

Since 2019, Mexico aim has been to process more than one million barrels per day at the country’s six refineries, but one of the main reasons the goal has not been fulfilled is because Pemex produces an oil residue, fuel oil which is highly pollutant and has a lower market value than the crude it is made from.

Pemex said that it will complete the construction of a coking plant at the Miguel Hidalgo refinery, which would allow it to reduce fuel oil production by 90% at the Tula and Salamanca complexes, but that it will not be ready until 2024 following a $2.64 billion investment.

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