Mexico Ready ‘Tomorrow’ If U.S. Approves Crude Swaps

Petroleos Mexicanos is negotiating with shale oil producers in Texas and North Dakota as it awaits a U.S. government ruling that could make it the second country approved for exports of unrefined crude.

Mexico’s state-owned oil company, known as Pemex, is ready to take deliveries of U.S. crude “as soon as tomorrow” if the U.S. Commerce Department approves an application for a crude exchange, Jose Manuel Carrera, chief executive officer of PMI, the firm’s commercial arm, said in a phone interview Monday.

Pemex asked the U.S. in January to allow it to swap heavy crude it produces in exchange for up to 100,000 barrels a day of U.S. light crude to increase Mexico’s gasoline production and improve refining. The U.S. bans most exports of unrefined crude oil, with an exception for shipments to Canada.

“We’re completely ready to start operating the swap,” Carrera said. “We’re very excited for this since it benefits both countries. We’d definitely want to see this happen as soon as possible.”

If the exchange is approved, Pemex would be able to continue selling its heavy oil directly to U.S. refineries, and purchase light U.S. oil from other companies, Carrera said.

Eugene Cottilli, a spokesman for the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which is weighing the potential swap, didn’t immediately respond to phone and email requests for comment.

Pemex is negotiating with producers in the Eagle Ford and Permian regions in Texas and the Bakken region in North Dakota, Carrera said. It would import the U.S. crude at the Pajaritos and Dos Bocas terminals, which have enough capacity to handle the shipments.

The U.S. oil would be used at Pemex refineries in Salamanca, Tula and Salina Cruz, which have a combined capacity of 825,000 barrels a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. After decades of relying on domestic production, Mexico’s government approved energy reforms last year that allowed its refiners to import oil.

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