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Mexico's new administration initiates investigations into Pemex's hydrogen supply contracts



By Daniel Rodriguez /Platts


Petroleumworld 01 28 2019

Mexico's new administration is investigating Pemex's hydrogen supply contracts for the 315,000 b/d Tula, and 190,000 b/d Madero refineries for corruption, the country's energy secretary said Friday.

The former administration of Enrique Pena Nieto sold the hydrogen plants from both refineries to private companies to increase the reliability of their operations.

However, Secretary Rocio Nahle said in a webcast press conference that the price at which Pemex sold the hydrogen plants and the framework of the supply contracts were suspicious.

"This is part of the damage done to the company as these plants were from Pemex," Nahle said. The argument that these contracts would increase the reliable operation of the refineries is a lie, she added.

Nahle said that the 81.75-MMcf/d hydrogen unit at Tula was sold to France's Air Liquide for $51.5 million, while Linde Group bought Madero's 42-MMcf/d plant for $35 million.

In contrast, the budgeted price to build a 20-MMcf/d hydrogen unit at the 330,000 b/d Salina Cruz refinery is estimated at $100 million, she added.

According to a transition report from the previous government, hydrogen supply problems were accountable for 63% of all unscheduled stoppages at Mexican refineries.

Since 2016, Tula's hydrogen unit has been shut due to maintenance problems, creating significant financial losses for Pemex.

As part of this agreement, Air Liquide would do all the upgrades required to bring the plant into optimal conditions.

The previous government said that depending on the efficiencies gained, the new contract would allow Pemex to consume up to four times less natural gas per cubic feet of hydrogen produced.

The efficient production of hydrogen is required so refineries can produce diesel and gasoline with ultra-low sulfur levels, the report showed.


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Story by Daniel Rodriguez ; Edited by Pankti Mehta from Platts /S&P GLOBAL

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