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Mexican customs service extends hours to process fuel imports



By Argus

Petroleumworld 01 18 2019

Mexico's customs service will process trucks from the US loaded with fuel around the clock starting today to try to ease widespread shortages in the country.

Mexico's customs agency previously stopped work at 5pm ET and only worked on weekdays for border crossings.

The Mexican government is trying to normalize fuel supply in the center and west of the country following shortages caused by its tactic to combat fuel theft by shutting most of the fuel theft-prone pipelines in the country. This has left supply to less efficient and costlier trucking operations.

"Fuel will be imported 24 hours a day for Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Juarez, Mexicali, Colombia and Ciudad Camargo," Mexico's customs agency said.

Mexico will also change the direction of products flow from the 275,000 b/d Cadereyta refinery in the northern Nuevo Leon state to supply the center and south of the country under the new plan. The refinery's output is much less than capacity, however, with 95,300 b/d of refined products reported in November, including LPG, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel,fuel oil and asphalt.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the plan aims to avoid fuel shortages in the north.

"We want to supply the border area with imported fuel trucks from Texas, and let Cadereyta's production flow to the south," Lopez Obrador said yesterday. "Customs director [Ricardo Peralta] is now part of the anti-fuel theft team and he is in charge of making sure fuel trucks can cross quickly in the border."

Mexico will also allow bonded warehouses that the customs agency regularly uses to check cargo to be used for fuel storage. Mexico has fuel stocks of up to 16mn bl, of which 5.3mn bl are stored in inland terminals, according to Pemex chief executive Octavio Romero.

Mexico's customs agency expects these actions will result in a 40pc increase in fuel truck crossings.

Yet the customs plan did not mention any coordination of effort with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, which is necessary as fuel truck paperwork and cargo are checked on both sides of the border.

"If the American CBP is not working as well 24 hours a day, I really do not see what benefit we will have," Cesar Cadena, chief executive with diesel importer Grupo Energeticos said.

The partial government shutdown in the US over a dispute for President Donald Trump's requested funding for a wall on the border could also complicate coordination efforts with the CBP.

"What they could do is have trucks checked on the US side beforehand during normal hours, and once everything is clear on the US side they could cross to Mexico at any time," Cadena said. "But even this logistical hustle seems complicated with a limited number of US officials."

The plan also includes opening the ports for offloading operations at any time. Offloading at marine terminals does not face the same type of potential customs delays, but full storage has led to a somewhat larger-than-usual backlog of ships waiting off Mexico's Gulf coast. Mexico is storing 7mn bl of fuel in 40 vessels at the ports of Ciudad Madero, Tuxpan, Veracruz, Coatzacoalcos, Manzanillo, Topolobampo, Guaymas and La Paz. Out of the 7mn bl, 4mn bl are gasoline, 2mn bl diesel, and 1mn bl of jet fuel.

Vessels in transit are carrying 3.8mn bl in 15 vessels, with 2mn bl of gasoline, 1.4mn of diesel and 300,000 bl of jet fuel, Romero said yesterday.



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