Photo: Pemex

By DAMIÁN ESCALANTE

Mexico’s Congress approved a reform on Thursday, April 22, that will once again allow the state-run oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to monopolize the sale of hydrocarbons throughout the country.

The initiative, which passed the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, April 21 and the Senate on Thursday, was presented by Manuel Rodríguez, president of the Energy Commission at the Chamber of Deputies, and repeals the 13th transitory article of the Hydrocarbons Law, which had allowed the participation of private-sector individuals in the sale and commercialization of gasoline, gas natural and LP gas.

This reform is aimed at reversing former President Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2013 Energy Reform, which limited Pemex’s monopoly in order to create competitive conditions between the state company and private agents.

However, this new law, which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is using to maneuver his own controversial (and many say, unconstitutional) energy plan, leaves both Mexican and international investors with a high degree of uncertainty, rather than combating the illegal trade in gasoline and diesel, as López Obrador has alleged.

Opponents of the bill, which was endorsed by the president’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), pointed out that by creating a Pemex monopoly, the law will open the door to discretion, abuse and authoritarianism by the government.

They also said that it will lead to higher gas prices for consumers, which AMLO has denied.

The largest gas station union in the country, Onexpo, reported that it is already taking measures to appeal the law.

However, Alejandra Palacios Prieto, head commissioner of the Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece), said that although there are various permits and service stations already operating in Mexico apart from Pemex, Petróleos Mexicanos is still the main supplier of the wholesale market, controlling 83 percent of the national gasoline market and 73 percent of diesel in 2020.

…April 23, 2021

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