Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that a new refinery owned by state-run Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) will reach full operating capacity by next year, despite industry experts saying it will take until at least 2024.
Lopez Obrador said in a regular news conference that the Olmeca refinery along the coast of Tabasco, set to open July 2, will go through a “trial period” of several months before beginning production next year.
The president and Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said three years ago that the 340,000 barrel-a-day refinery would be up and running by 2023.
“It will already be producing at full capacity by next year,” Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, dismissing critics and emphasizing that the country would be able to reach self-sufficiency and stop fuel imports in 2023 as well.
“It is a huge, monumental thing … everything must be harmonized to obtain the fuel. It will take time,” Lopez Obrador said of the refinery, also known as Dos Bocas, which has gone over its initial budget of $8 billion and could reach up to $14 billion.
“The construction part, without a doubt, will end this year … but it will not take two years (to be operational),” Lopez Obrador said.
Lopez Obrador also said the country expected crude processing in six currently operating Pemex refineries to increase to 1.2 million barrels per day, up from the current level of 840,000 barrels per day, without specifying a time frame.
Total capacity would reach around 1.8 million barrels a day including the Olmeca refinery and the Deer Park refinery in Texas, of which Pemex became the sole owner in January.
That will allow Mexico to reach 800,000 barrels per day of gasoline and between 500,000 and 600,000 barrels per day of diesel in 2023, Lopez Obrador said.