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Opinion
Ricardo Castillo
Ricardo Castillo Onwards Pemex The problem with these oil projects is that they may have never come to fruition
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It’s now been four years since President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Energy Reform went into effect and Mexicans still see no results. What they do see, however, is that state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) sinks deeper into the hole and is the victim of every political scoundrel and gasoline thief in the nation.

Even then, on Thursday President Peña Nieto went on to Ciudad Del Carmen, in the state of Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico coast, to commemorate yet another anniversary of the March 18, 1938, now 79-year old “nationalization” of the oil from foreign companies and which was indeed property of the Mexican state until Peña Nieto managed to pass through Congress his Energy Reform.

But in his speech the President described Pemex as being “the most emblematic Mexican company and part of our national identity.”

Needless to say that the President defended, once again, his most indefensible Energy Reform claiming, “We are going down the right path to convert Pemex in a synonym of efficiency and financial solidity so that with its invaluable human capital it can go to the forefront of the world’s oil industry.”

Not to question the President, but just a few months ago he was claiming that Pemex was a “chicken that laid the golden eggs” and that it was dead (I would have sworn the fairy-tale says it was a goose, but the President claim’s it’s a chicken), but then who can contradict the President?

Accompanying the President in the ceremony was Pemex Director José Antonio González Anaya who of course was all praise for the way the Energy Reform is moving forwards and that “for the first time” Pemex has its direction heading in the right direction with a business plan that will make it a profitable venture for the wealth of all Mexicans.

Let us hope that in that business plan González Anaya included the “duct suckers” known as “huachicoleros” who have been stealing gasoline from different Pemex ducts and selling it to established filling stations which – it is documented – have stopped buying gas from Pemex and doing it instead from the “huachicoleros.” Let’s hope they are included in the business plan because they did not mention the scandalous massive gasoline theft Pemex has undergone during this Administration.

Also sitting on the main stand of the celebration was none other than the leader of the Oil Workers Union Senator Carlos Romero Deschamps who praised the workers “who have never stopped carrying out their compromise with Pemex and Mexico” and indubitably will continue forwards keeping the compromise with the President’s mandate and the Energy Reform and “Mexico’s road to progress.”

In the ceremony, President Peña Nieto also “instructed” the Pemex management to launch the Peninsular Project for the Yucatan peninsula with the installation of new ducts and warehousing terminals to connect with Port Progreso near Mérida and Cancún to supply fuels in a cheaper way to the states of Quintana Roo and Mérida with a total investment of $185 million.

The problem with these projects is that they may have never come to fruition. Let’s recall that at the beginning of the EPN Administration two central Mexico refineries in Salamanca and Tula were in the plans to make up for the shortage of fuels which are now being imported from the United States. Both refinery plans were scrapped.

Oh, but the President did claim that the rickety metal scrap that is the Tula Refinery (50 kilometers north of Mexico City) will have its first triumph in its hydrogen facility to increase production of refined fuel and operational improvement. This way, he said, Pemex can transfer part of the losses risks to a third party (did not mention who) and acquire the state-of-the-art technology available today.

Also during the event it was underlined the upcoming co-investment alliances with BHP Billiton to develop the deep sea Triton oil camp in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico which will mean an $11 billion investment. Also that Chevron and Japanese oil company Inpex won the exploration to Block 3 also in the Gulf of Mexico bordering with the U.S. international limits zone.

Of course, President Peña Nieto had a message to the massive amount of critics who are not in agreement with his policies or opening up Pemex to foreign investment.

“To those who assure that the energy sector and Pemex should have not opened up to alliances and private investment, those who uphold this view, do it either because they are totally irresponsible and absolute ignorant” of the oil industry.

But as a critic puts it, what Mexicans see in official ceremonies to commemorate the yearly Pemex anniversary, “it is sheer demagoguery.”

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