Mexico’s Pemex Resumes Super-Light Crude Oil Exports After Six-Year Pause

Mexico’s state-owned oil company exported 48,000 barrels per day of the Olmeca variety of crude during July

A ship sails from Pemex's Bicentenario deepwater oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
August 28, 2023 | 12:44 PM

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Mexico City — Mexico’s state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has resumed exports of super-light crude oil, a hydrocarbon that is easy to refine, six years since the last shipment.

The energy giant led by Octavio Romero Oropeza exported 48,000 barrels per day of Olmeca oil during July, having not exported the variety since August 2017, a month during which it shipped 49,300 barrels per day.

Olmeca oil represents 11% of the 1.57 million barrels per day produced daily by Pemex, but only 5% of the total exported by the company.

The importance of Olmeca oil lies in the fact that it is the lightest of all Mexican crudes with a gravity of 38-39 degrees API and a sulfur level of 0.73 to 0.95% by weight. These characteristics make it a good product for high-value lubricants and petrochemicals.


Pemex also obtains the highest amount of gasoline from each barrel of Olmeca (50%) compared to other crudes such Maya (33%), the variety it produces the most of, and 12% of fuel oil compared to the amount obtained from Maya (52%).

Pemex’s refineries are configured to process light crudes, so the change in the extraction trend toward heavier crudes has reduced the company’s refining capacity.

Crude exports fell 12% but remain above one million barrels per day (1.05 million), but are still far from the goal of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who promised to end crude exports this year to refine all of it in Pemex refineries, but the excess fuel oil produced prevents them from processing more oil.

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