US imports of Mexican crude fall to lowest on record, EIA says

U.S. weekly imports of Mexican crude oil fell to the lowest on record in early April as Pemex cut exports to supply to its refineries.

Story By Stefanie Eschenbacher and Arathy Somasekhar | MEXICO CITY/HOUSTON, (Reuters) – U.S. weekly imports of Mexican crude oil fell to the lowest on record in early April, as Mexico’s state energy company Pemex cut exports to supply more to its domestic refineries.

The imports dropped to 209,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the week ended April 5, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed on Wednesday.

The imports averaged about 733,000 bpd in 2023. The previous weekly low was 226,000 bpd in the last week of 2021.

Reuters reported last week that Pemex requested its trading unit to cancel up to 436,000 bpd of crude exports for April and at least 330,000 bpd for May to retain supplies for its refineries, including the newest, the Dos Bocas refinery.

The Dos Bocas refinery in the southeastern state of Tabasco, which has been running behind schedule and over budget, is part of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s strategy to wean the country off expensive gasoline and diesel imports.

Pemex last month disclosed its crude production in February had fallen to the lowest level in 45 years.

The cancellations in April include a 122,000 bpd reduction of Mexico’s flagship Maya crude, prized by Gulf Coast refiners that typically run medium and heavy oil.

A trader with direct knowledge of the matter said that while operational issues typically lead to significant variations in exports, the low export levels in April and May are likely to continue over the coming months, meaning U.S. refiners and traders will have to buy more barrels from the domestic market to compensate.

U.S. refiners will also look for similar quality crude from Canada or Venezuela, two sources familiar with the market dynamics said.

To offset the Mexican shortage, the U.S. imported 531,000 bpd of crude oil from Saudi Arabia last week, the highest in seven months. Total U.S. imports fell 184,000 bpd to 6.4 million bpd.

Prices for heavier crude along the U.S. Gulf Coast have climbed in recent weeks, in part due to the fall in Mexican exports.

Maya prices at the U.S. Gulf Coast climbed to about $78.80 per barrel on Wednesday, according to pricing data provider General Index, opens new tab. That was more than $1 higher than in the previous session and about $9 more than the average last year.

Shippers are weighing repositioning tankers to serve other markets as Maya exports decline, a shipping industry source said.

Reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston and Stefanie Eschenbacher in Mexico City; editing by Gary McWilliams and Barbara Lewis

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