Mexico’s state oil company Pemex plans to ramp up crude processing to 920,000 to 960,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year, after refining hit the lowest levels in at least five years in September following a series of plant stoppages.
Carlos Murrieta, director general of Pemex’s industrial transformation subsidiary, said on Monday that the company would spend around $120 million by year-end on maintenance at 24 units halted at its six domestic refineries.
“We are making a big effort to designate resources that we are moving from different parts toward maintenance … and our expectation is to reach levels above 1.1 million bpd by March/April,” the official said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
Pemex’s six refineries have a combined processing capacity of 1.64 million bpd, but Murrieta said the optimal processing level would be between 1.20 million and 1.25 million bpd, or around 75 percent of total capacity.
He also said that in 2017 the company would ramp up spending on the maintenance of refineries, many of which have faced unscheduled stoppages.
Still, the company’s crude oil exports rose to 1.42 million bpd in September, as the company increased oil shipments to Europe and the Middle East.
The company, which has struggled with falling production and a hefty debt load, has been hit by lower oil revenues. Pemex’s production fell to about 2.1 million bpd at the end of September, or down nearly 8 percent versus levels at the end of 2015.
However, the company expects to stabilize its finances by 2019-2020.
Murrieta said the company hopes to seal tie-ups at refineries in Tula, Salina Cruz, and Salamanca, although it would aim to keep stakes of least 50 percent.
“What we see is a refinery where they (the partners) participate,” he said. “We offer our existing infrastructure, our partner puts up capital, we reconfigure it and become joint owners,” he said.
“I would expect that by the middle of next year, there will be solid news,” he said, when asked when Pemex expected to seal the first such alliance.