Private firms can import fuel April 1

Published 23 February 16 11:10 AM

President advances date liberalizing rules on fuel imports

More gas stations might be coming sooner to Mexico with today’s announcement to accelerate changes in fuel import regulations.

Only Petróleos Mexicanos is permitted to import fuel at present, but that was to have changed next year as one of the elements of the energy reforms. “I want to announce that we will bring forward this opening. Effective April 1, 2016, any company will be able to import gasoline and diesel, which should be reflected in better prices.”President Enrique Peña Nieto told an energy forum in Houston, Texas, today that restrictions on the import of gasoline and diesel will be lifted in April rather than next January 1 as planned.

He made the announcement during his keynote address earlier this afternoon to the annual IHS CERAWeek conference, an international energy forum.

He described the change as “a decisive action that will trigger strong private investment and allow for intense competition in the fuel sector when prices are freed up completely in 2018.”

Firms other than Pemex have been allowed to open gas stations since the beginning of the year, but they can only buy their products from the state oil company.

Peña Nieto also said the call for bids in the auction of crude oil blocks in deep-water fields in the Gulf of Mexico will be held in early December.

But the president said opening Mexico’s energy industry will continue regardless. “it is not the time to stop. It is the time to move forward,” he said, later adding that energy reforms have represented a paradigm shift, and “the most important economic change in the country in the last 50 years.”Some observers have suggested the auction should be delayed until oil prices are strong enough to justify the development costs of the fields. The breakeven cost in deep-water fields is about US $65 per barrel, according to Rystad Energy.

Following his speech, Peña Nieto was recognized for his “profound leadership” in transforming Mexico’s energy industry with the IHS CERAWeek Global Energy Lifetime Achievement Award. It is presented to individuals who “have made a significant and lasting impact on the global energy future.”

“No country has more profoundly modernized every aspect of its energy sector—from oil and gas, to power and renewable energy, to the sale of refined products — in such a short time,” said Daniel Yergin, conference chair and vice-chairman of IHS Inc., sponsor of the event.

There was a bit of bright news in Houston today when the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) spoke about the prospects for oil prices.

Fatih Birol shared details from a New IEA report that forecasts oil demand will grow by about 7 million barrels a day by 2021, but producers will only be able to deliver 4.1 million barrels.

Earlier today, Peña Nieto met with Texas Governor Greg Abbott but potentially divisive themes such as border walls and border security were left off the agenda. Instead, they discussed “continued collaboration and progress” on an energy task force that would encourage innovative, cross-border energy solutions.

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