Last Monday during the annual IHS Energy CERAWEEK gathering in Houston, Texas, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that as of April 1, 2016, fuel companies could start freely importing diesel and gasoline to Mexico.
The announcement was immediately misinterpreted, claiming that the president had gone to Houston, where Pemex owns a filling station that sells gas at half the prices Pemex does in Mexico, to announce that this would mean competition was now open and that consumers could benefit – at long last – from the cheap international oil prices.
Not so. The Finance Secretariat immediately issued a statement making it clear “the opening to imports of gasoline and diesel does not imply any modification to the taxation framework nor to the maximum pricing scheme of said fuels.”
The announcement, even if cleared up by the Finance Secretariat on the double, unleashed all sorts of spec particularly from the Mexican Association of Filling Station Owners (Amegas) which was caught off-guard.
But what the surprise notice brought about was sheer consciousness that at present, nobody, not even Pemex, is in a situation to start importing bulk amounts of diesel and gas. The Amegas owners, who have grown accustomed to buying from Pemex, definitely said they don’t have the deposits to store fuels commercially.
President Peña Nieto’s announcement was not to open up the price wars now, but to pave the way for future competition.
For the meantime, and until 2018 when foreign gas station operators may join the fray in Mexico, Mexicans will continue to pay “maximum pricing” for fuels.
We are the milking cow.