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By THE PULSE NEWS MEXICO STAFF

While Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has set a deadline of 2024 for the nation to become self-sufficient in gasoline production, the country is severely lagging in the production of premium, high-octane gasoline, used by about 30 percent of all Mexican vehicles.

Currently, Mexico’s state-run oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) produces only 4 percent of all premium gasoline sold in the country.

Mexico’s National Refining System (SNR) has longstanding operational problems, such as unscheduled stoppages. Consequently, in 2021 there were numerous weeks in which it stopped producing or significantly reduced the production of premium gasoline, a fuel used in recent model cars.

The General Directorate of Petroleum Products of the Energy Secretariat (Sener) revealed that in seven of the 52 weeks of last year, the volume of production of this type of gasoline was zero.

Moreover, during another eight weeks, it produced only between 1,000 and 2,000 barrels per day, when national demand averaged 122,900 barrels per day between January and November 2021, forcing the country to import and use reserve inventories to cover domestic consumption.

In general, according to Pemex data, the refineries produced an average of 5,300 barrels per day of premium gasoline between January and November, which means that the national production only covered about 4 percent of total premium gasoline consumption.

In 2020, Mexico’s production of premium gasoline had averaged 2,700 barrels per day, representing less than 2 percent of national demand.

According to National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), Mexico’s registered automotive vehicle fleet in circulation, based on the 2020 Population and Housing Census, amounts to 50.347 million units, of which almost 30 percent (about 15 million) are recent model vehicles that require premium gasoline.

To cover internal demand, Mexico has stripped its reserve inventories and made purchases from abroad, especially from the United States.

Figures from the Sener’s General Directorate of Petroleum Products and the Treasury’s Tax Administration Service (SAT) indicate that the volume of  premium gasoline imports averaged around 24,300 barrels a day in 2021.

The problem is not new, given that in 2020 the Madero, Minatitlán, Salamanca and Salina Cruz refineries stopped producing premium gasoline altogether.

Furthermore, in 2021 the average percentage of utilization of installed capacity of Pemex’s refineries was well below 50 percent.

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