Pemex imports light crude in February, boosts heavy crude exports to the US
By Daniel Rodriguez / Platts
Petroleumworld 04 01 2019
Pemex imported light crude in February while freeing up more barrels of heavy oil for export to the US after sanctions on Venezuelan grades were imposed, data from the state-owned oil company showed Tuesday.
According to the company's monthly statistical report, Pemex imported 80,000 b/d of light crude in February, information that a company source confirmed to S&P Global Platts.
The same data set shows Pemex exported 1.4 million b/d in February, an increase of 400,000 b/d compared with January.
The report did not make clear where the light crude imports originated.
PEMEX EXPORTS RISE SHARPLY
The increase in imports came as Pemex jacked up its heavy crude exports to the US to 769,000 b/d, an increase of 240,000 b/d compared with January, the data show. Pemex also increased its exports to Asia to 492,000 b/d in February, a rise of 170,000 b/d compared with January.
At the same time, Pemex's February crude production rose only slightly -- 1.7 million b/d compared with 1.62 million b/d in January.
Preliminary data from the US Energy Information Administration shows the US imported 600,000 b/d from Mexico in February, 80,000 b/d more than in January. Through March 22, Mexican oil exports to the US averaged 747,000 b/d, according to the EIA.
This change in crude flows occurred after the administration of President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Venezuela, creating a supply gap for US Gulf Coast refineries, which are designed to process heavy sour crude barrels.
Currently, Mexico's heavy Maya crude is being sold at a premium to light grades.
The average WTI Cushing reference price for February was $54.94/b while Pemex obtained an export price of $58.92/b for its heavy Maya crude, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics and Pemex data.
FIRST IMPORTS UNDER LOPEZ OBRADOR
This is the first time Pemex has imported light crude under the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Under former President Enrique Pena Nieto, the state-owned company imported large quantities of crude in November 2018 -- the first imports in at least three decades.
In December, Pemex brought in 300,000 barrels of light US Bakken crude from Phillips 66 under a contract awarded in October via a tender. Sources have told Platts this contract has a clause that could lead to additional purchases in the future.
In January, Lopez Obrador told Platts during a press conference that Mexico would import light crude while it invests in increasing its domestic production in the longer term.
"We have two options while we solve this situation [of lower domestic oil output]: We can buy light crude for our refineries, or we buy gasoline. We are going to do both things," Lopez Obrador said.
Under Pemex's 2019 budget, the company has the green light to import 33.9 million barrels of light crude or about 90,000 b/d.
In recent months, weak domestic light crude production has prevented Pemex's simple configuration refineries such as the 220,000 b/d Salamanca, 315,000 b/d Tula, and 330,000 b/d Salina Cruz facilities from operating efficiently.
Pemex data shows it increased light crude processing levels in February by 45,000 b/d to 292,000 b/d while its light crude production decreased 10,000 b/d to 484,000 b/d compared with January.
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Story by Daniel Rodriguez; Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh from Platts / SPGlobal.
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