Mexico may have major reserves of petroleum but it lacks the necessary refining capacity to supply the domestic market with all the refined products such as vehicle fuels that its industrial, commercial and residential sectors demand.
As a result, Mexico has to import refined petroleum products, mainly from the USA. The high costs of these imports is a constant point of discussion in Mexico. If the country developed sufficient refining capacity, it could spend every dollar that currently goes on petro-based imports on something else, such as social services or infrastructure improvements.
A small fortune is being spent each month on petroleum-related imports (see graph). Over the past year, the cost of imports has risen 12.3%. This is almost entirely due to higher oil prices on international markets; the volume of imports has increased only 1% over the period.
Imports of refined petroleum products will not end any time soon. Mexico does plan to build new refineries and expand its refining capacity, but they will take years to complete. Earlier this year, it was reported that Pemex engineers were adding the final touches to the blueprints for a new refinery in Tula (Hidalgo). Work began with the re-routing of existing irrigation channels and high tension power lines to take them well away from the site. It remains unclear, though, just how long it will take for this project to be completed.
- Gulf of Mexico energy reserves: updates in Mexico’s oil and gas sector
- How much longer will Mexico be an exporter of oil?