| MEXICO CITY
MEXICO CITY Nov 15 Mexican state oil monopoly
Pemex said on Friday it is studying "the nature and timing" of
its new Tula refinery following repeated delays and speculation
that the project could be suspended pending the government's
planned energy reform.
Planned for more than $10 billion, the Tula Bicentenario
refinery would be Mexico's first such project since the late
1970s and has been the subject of controversy since Pemex
omitted it from its five-year business plan last month.
Pemex has denied reports in Mexican media this month that
said the project had been canceled.
Pemex chief executive Emilio Lozoya is likely to face
questions on Tula's future when he takes part in public hearings
in the lower house of Congress next week.
Earlier this week, the lower house said in a statement
announcing the hearings that "cancellation of the Tula refinery"
is among the possible items on the agenda for Lozoya.
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission, Pemex said it is weighing its options on Tula.
"As of the date of this report, we are in the process of
evaluating the nature and timing of this project," Pemex said.
President Enrique Pena Nieto hopes to push a major energy
bill through Congress before the end of the year which the
government hopes will spur billions of dollars in new investment
across the industry, including in refining.
Gasoline imports have jumped in recent years as the
country's six refineries have failed to keep pace with rising
demand, despite Mexico's status as a major crude producer.
Announced with great fanfare in 2008, company officials have
time and again denied the refinery in central Hidalgo state has
been shelved, a position reiterated by Pemex refining unit chief
Miguel Tame on Thursday.
Tame added that he expects basic engineering and other site
preparations to be completed by December.
So far only a wall enclosing the perimeter of the project
has been completed at the site 51 miles (82 km) north of Mexico
City. Pemex had planned to finish the project by 2017, but
officials have said that target is unlikely to be met.
The new refinery would be adjacent to the existing Miguel
Hidalgo refinery, Mexico's second largest with a crude oil
processing capacity of 315,000 barrels per day.