A number of media outlets reported in recent days that Pemex data show Mexico importing light crude oil in February. We believe this is not the case. Pemex published import data for February showing monthly volumes of LPG, gasoline, diesel, fuel oil and “others.” The category “others” includes light crude oil and, since 2013, liquefied natural gas. The Pemex data table implies the broad “others” category covers monthly imports back to 2017 and annual data back to 2014. Our data show no imports of light crude so far this year.
Mexico last imported light crude oil from waterborne sources in late December. Cargo was loaded in the US one day before President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn into office. A shift in the crude oil delivery pattern from waterborne to rail distribution would be an uncommon practice considering historical data. There are no oil pipelines connecting the United States and Mexico.
Pemex imported four cargoes of light crude late last year from the US. All four shipments – each 350,000 bbls – were Bakken crude, delivered from P66’s Port Arthur terminal to Pemex’s Pajaritos terminal.
US restrictions on exports of heavy Venezuelan crude oil are benefiting Mexico: heavy Mayan crude is helping to fill the Venezuelan gap. At 1.35 million barrels per day, the pace of Mexican crude oil exports in February was one of the highest on our records. March exports averaged 1.16mn bpd and most of those barrels were delivered to the US Gulf Coast.
Mexico is looking to benefit from high prices and high demand for heavier crudes. That means it could start taking in more refined products so refiners can focus on exporting Mayan grade. March import levels of light and middle distillates are very similar to those in 2018.
That’s a recovery from the slow pace in January when Mexico worked to combat illegal fuel siphoning by limiting pipeline deliveries, which led to port congestion and thus slower import rates.