The Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco. Photo: Google

By MARK LORENZANA                              

Mexican Treasury Secretary Rogelio Ramírez de la O said he authorized a transfer of 22.5 billion pesos, labeled as “urgent,” to the Dos Bocas refinery in the southeastern Mexican state of Tabasco — one of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial pet projects — at a meeting of the board of directors of state-run oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), on Wednesday, July 27.

The amount was for the payment of value added tax (VAT) of the refinery’s construction materials, which was apparently “not budgeted.”

The amount was missing from the project, Ramírez de la O said at the board meeting, as it was left off from the original budget, but the request would still be subject to an internal process “to determine if it is part of the original project or is part of additional works.”

Ramírez de la O denied that there is a lack of resources for the Dos Bocas project, and said that the refinery was very important for López Obrador. “Dos Bocas is a high priority project for the president, and nothing is going to stop him in any way,” he said. “But the rules do have to be followed, and the rule is that 22.5 billion pesos is the budgeted ceiling for this year.”

At the board meeting, those responsible for the work on the new refinery disclosed that on July 2, 2020, an estimated investment amount of $8.9 billion was authorized for the project. However, the estimated amount was only for the construction work involved and did not include taxes such as VAT.

José Eduardo Beltrán, one of the five independent directors of Pemex, asked those responsible for the Dos Bocas project for a date for when the refinery could begin to contribute in terms of producing barrels of oil.

The people in charge of the plant said that at the end of the year, the loading of hydrocarbons in the refinery could begin, and production targets would be reached by the first quarter of 2023, at the latest.

They said that the refinery would be processing 340,000 barrels of crude oil, and would produce a total of 290,000 barrels of diesel and gasoline continuously, a process that would end in the first quarter of 2023.

Regarding the status of the project, those in charge of the refinery reported that progress of the Dos Bocas construction was at 91 percent at the end of April of this year.

Early this month, Mexican journalist Carlos Loret de Mola wrote a scathing report about inconsistencies in the projections of the amount of oil that the Dos Bocas refinery would be able to produce. Loret de Mola said that 340,000 barrels would be a hard sell, as “it’s impossible” for Mexico to produce “oil that it currently doesn’t have,” and that “oil-sector specialists predict the refinery will not be capable of processing its first barrels of oil until 2026,” and not at in the first quarter of 2023, three years after the López Obrador administration’s initial predictions.

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