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NEWS - Pemex to buy 8 oil rigs

MEXICO CITY, – Mexico’s state oil monopoly Pemex said it will acquire eight new offshore oil drilling platforms and other equipment worth $1.2 billion to expand production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Pemex said in a statement seven of the platforms, which will be used in the Bay of Campeche, can operate at 344 feet (105 meters) in the water and can drill at depths of 25,000 feet (7,600 meters).

The company said it would lease the platforms for various periods. Pemex also said it would buy five land rigs for $200 million for drilling in the south of the country.

In related news, Pemex said the expansion of the Minatitlan refinery will now be ready by the end of August, providing the first firm target for the completion of the long-delayed project.

The project to increase capacity at the 185,000 barrel-per-day refinery in the Gulf of Mexico State of Veracruz was originally supposed to be finished in late March.

But a document obtained by Reuters on Monday said it will not start operations by the end of the summer, adding 47,300 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline to production. Pemex had said in the past Minatitlan’s new facilities would increase gasoline output by 57,000 bpd.

Currently Mexico, a major oil producer, imports around 40 percent of its gasoline because of a lack of in-country refining capacity.

The expansion plan, which began back in 2003, aimed to bring the refinery up to 350,000 bpd capacity.

Parts of the renovated plant are already operating, producing an additional 34,000 barrels per day of diesel, the document said. In addition to the gas and diesel, Minatitlan will reduce fuel oil output from 65,000 to 27,700 bpd.

Pemex’s CEO said at a conference this month that Mexico aims to reduce gasoline imports by 8 percent between 2012 and 2016.

The company plans to build a new oil refinery in Tula, north of Mexico City but wants to avoid the setbacks seen at Minatitlan due to poor supervision by Pemex and the splitting of the expansion into multiple packages.

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