© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A sign over a crude oil refinery owned by Mexico’s national oil company Pemex, is pictured in Deer Park, Texas, U.S., January 20, 2022. REUTERS/Erwin Seba/File Photo
HOUSTON/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Mexico’s state-run oil firm Pemex has sharply reduced crude exports to India, the third largest market for its oil, amid preparations for a new refinery expected to absorb more of its output, according to data and people familiar with the matter.
Petroleos Mexicanos in December said it would cut crude exports this year and could suspend them altogether in 2023 as the company works to meet the government’s target of refining all of its oil domestically.
Pemex is prepared to sacrifice a large portion of this year’s crude sales to Asia, according to analysts and traders, with the expansion of its downstream business. In January, it took complete ownership of the 340,000 barrels per day (bpd) Deer Park, Texas, refinery, and agreed to supply it with over 100,000 bpd of its flagship Maya heavy crude.
“Indian refiners that buy Mexican crudes every month are being called to notify them of volume cuts in 2022. Pemex has also turned down requests by refiners trying to sign new contracts,” one of the sources said.
Mexico has scheduled only one crude cargo to India for the first two months of the year, which will cut exports to about 15,000 bpd from the almost 98,000 bpd shipped in the same period last year.
Last year, Pemex exported an average of 132,500 bpd to India, according to Refinitiv Eikon Trade Flows data, and worth some $3.26 billion at Pemex’s crude market prices to Asia.
Pemex did not reply to a request for comment.
Asia is the second most important region for Pemex’s crude after North America, with Indian and South Korean refiners leading Asian purchases until last year, according to company and Eikon data.
In India, the main buyers of Pemex’s Maya and Isthmus crudes last year were Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC) and HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd (HMEL), Eikon data showed. Reliance Industries also has been a frequent buyer of Mexico’s oil in recent years, one of the people said.
Pemex volumes to IOC could fall to about 22,000 bpd this year, from 40,000 bpd in 2021, one of the people said.
Supplies to HMEL and Reliance also have been cut, the people familiar with the matter added.
IOC, HMEL and Reliance did not reply to requests for comment on the volume reductions.
Mexican crudes had gained market share in India through 2021 amid dwindling exports from Venezuela and Iran as Western sanctions choked supplies.
Mexico climbed to the sixth largest crude supplier to India last year, as rivals Canada, Brazil and Colombia also gained share. U.S.-sanctioned Venezuela did not supply oil to India in 2021, the data showed, after holding the sixth position in 2020.
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has promised the proposed 340,000-bpd Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco state will begin producing fuel next year, a key step towards self-sufficiency in one of the world’s largest fuel importers.
The country’s refineries have 1.6 million-bpd processing capacity, but operate at a fraction of that level due to lack of investment, frequent outages and insufficient light oil to process.