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Mexico president admits fuel production still short to reach energy self-sufficiency

(Reuters) - Mexico will be short of the fuel it needs to meet President Andres Manuel's Lopez Obrador goal of energy self-sufficiency when his term ends this year, he said during a press conference on Friday.

Lopez Obrador, slated to hand over the presidency to his successor on Oct. 1, said that with production from state-owned Pemex's seven local refineries, the one in Deer Park, Texas, and two coking plants under construction, Mexico will eventually be able to satisfy internal demand for gasoline and diesel.

"We are almost going to cover the gasoline supply with what is produced in Mexico and Deer Park (Texas). If anything, we are going to lack about 100,000-200,000 barrels per day (bpd) to achieve self-sufficiency," he said.

Pemex's six refineries in operation hit an average production of 250,000 bpd of gasoline and 133,000 bpd of diesel last year, while the country imported an average of 396,000 bpd of gasoline and 170,000 bpd of diesel in the first 11 months of 2023.

Experts have cast doubt over Lopez Obrador's goal, pointing to delays in infrastructure development.

Pemex head Octavio Romero said on Saturday that the new Olmeca refinery, with a capacity to process 340,000 bpd, will be fully operational by the end of March. However, previously announced production dates have not been met.

Authorities expect the plant, located in the southern state of Tabasco, to produce 170,000 bpd of gasoline and 120,000 bpd of diesel when fully operational.

Romero has said in conferences with analysts that the coking plants, one in the refinery in Tula and another in Salina Cruz, have a long way to go before they start operating.

Lopez Obrador also promised during his administration to stop exporting crude oil so that it could be refined at home. However, Mexico continued to export around one million bpd of oil last year out of a production of around 1.6 million bpd.

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