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Mexico's Energy Regulatory Commission keeping retail fuel permits on hold

globalenergy.mx

In its last session this week the CRE approved no permits for retail fuel stations operating under private brands,
but did approve six for Pemex-branded stations.

By Sergio Meana/Argus

MEXICO CITY
Petroleumworld 10 05 2020

Close to 350 permit applications to either build new retail fuel stations or rebrand existing ones remain pending at Mexico's energy regulatory commission (CRE) following the president's request for the agency to help support state companies.

Of the 350 permit applications, 200 are for rebranding stations and 150 for greenfield retail fuel stations, said Grupo Ciitla, a consultancy group specialized in energy-sector permits.

This is down slightly from 380 pending applications in November 2019 . This means that less than 10pc of the permits in queue for the whole industry, or about 30, were granted in the last 11 months according to Argus calculations.

Some of the permit requests have been pending since early 2019.

In its last session this week the CRE approved no permits for retail fuel stations operating under private brands, but did approve six for Pemex-branded stations. Pemex does not own most of its stations directly, but those under its brand will buy its fuel supply from the company.

Issuance of permits was expected to resume after the commission restarted its activities on 17 August following a pause on its legal deadlines because of the pandemic. But President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador recently asked energy regulatory entities, including the CRE, to help him boost state-owned Pemex and CFE .

Normal processing of permits has continued even if few new ones have been issued, the CRE said.

"During the suspension period, we continued to receive permit requests and respect the order in which petitions arrived," the CRE said this week. "CRE maintains as its utmost objective to review each petition exhaustively and ensure that every petition complies with the applicable legal framework."

Permits for new fuel storage or transportation projects or even imports the latter approved by the energy ministry (Sener) are also stalled, said Coya Resendiz, chief executive of Grupo Besco, a consultancy that helps retail fuel stations.

Some retailers complain of being shut by regulators for at least five days for what they say are minor issues. But inspections continue to find irregularities, including retailers skimming from volumes sold to consumers at the pump, the government said.

Profeco conducts inspections based on consumer complaints sent through an app, with retailers complaining that its commercial rivals are sometimes the source of the complaints.

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