Mexico reduces fuel imports from U.S. refineries

President AMLO stated that the WSJ article was "not serious," with no evidence to back his claims

Mexico reduces fuel imports from U.S. refineries
Experts claimed that the shutdown of key oil pipelines was only a transitional measure - Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP
English 15/01/2019 13:39 Newsroom Mexico City Noé Cruz Serrano Actualizada 13:39
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The shutdown of several key oil pipelines as part of the Mexican government’s strategy to fight fuel theft has now caused a chain reaction. With numerous tanker vessels in the Mexican Gulf waiting to unload at least 2.5 million barrels of gasoline, the government has been forced to reduce the volume of fuel imports from U.S. refineries.

According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Mexico has significantly reduced gasoline imports from the United States ever since Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office as president of Mexico on December 1.

With information from the research and consulting firm ClipperData, the journal claimed that Pemex imports showed a 28% decrease during the month of January with regard to December 2017, as well as a 45% decrease compared to the same month last year.

On Saturday morning, during a tour in Morelos, President López Obrador claimed that the article published by the WSJ was “not serious” and that Mexico’s fuel imports had remained unchanged, adding that the country was still buying 600 thousand barrels a day from foreign companies.

That same afternoon, the reporter Robbie Whelan tweeted that the journal had asked Pemex to provide import statistics but had received none

The WSJ attributed the decline of U.S. gasoline imports to “congestion at Mexico’s Gulf Coast fuel terminals where at least 11 tanker vessels were […] waiting to unload about 2.5 million barrels of gasoline as of Sunday afternoon.”

Sources from Mexico’s energy sector have pointed out that fuel transport to centers of consumption such as gas stations has been made more difficult, causing maritime terminals in Mexican ports to become saturated. Tanker ships from the U.S. have been forced to wait to unload their cargo in the Mexican Gulf.

“It made no sense to maintain import volumes because the unloading of tanker vessels at maritime terminals was slowing down,” they explained, adding that it was only a “transitional measure, since the government will gradually reopen the pipelines, through which the product will be moved at its normal speed.”

Robbie Whelan, one of the authors of the WSJ article, pointed out that the information had become viral on Twitter, though with an incorrect approach, holding President López Obrador accountable for the fuel sector crisis.

Mexico is one of the main markets for U.S. refined fuel exports. According to data made available in October last year, six out of every 10 barrels of fuel exported by U.S. companies ended up in the Mexican market.

However, more than 30 tanker vessels coming from the United States are now anchored in the Mexican Gulf waiting to enter the ports of Tuxpan and Coatzacoalcos to unload imported gasoline.

According to U.S. maritime authorities and information from Marine Traffic, which is considered the most important GPS tracker of vessel traffic in the world, some ships have been idling at sea since December 31.

The tankers have scheduled deliveries, though they are still on hold. Tuxpan is considered to be the main port of entry to the Valley of Mexico, since it is the most important point of oil transfer in the country.


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