Mexican state oil giant Pemex has recently ramped up oil shipments to Asia, particularly of Isthmus light crude, because of changes in blends processed by domestic refineries, senior company executives said on Tuesday.
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Pemex’s [PEMX.UL] shipments to Japan, China, India and South Korea rose to 214,000 barrels per day in April from 193,000 bpd in March, official figures show.
Most of those April shipments headed to Japan.
That increase is likely to be sustained in May, according to Thomson Reuters oil flow data and traders, who say several shipments of Mexican crude sold in the cash market are scheduled to set sail this month.
Jorge Sanchez, director of Pemex’s commercial arm, PMI Comercio Internacional, and Jose Manuel Carrera, director of new business and partnerships, said Pemex remained focused on maintaining exports to the United States but that they wanted to take advantage of other, more marginal markets.
Pemex’s exports to the United States fell 24 percent in the January-February period from a year earlier to 562,000 bpd.
Sanchez said changes to blends processed by refineries had resulted in a surplus of Isthmus crude, which Pemex’s six local refineries do not process.
“The sales we’re making generally respond to modifications in refining processes,” Sanchez said in an interview, adding the “extraordinary” sales to Asia were conducted in line with pricing formulas pre-agreed with clients.
While Mexican Maya crude is popular in the United States for its stable quality and abundant supply, Isthmus light crude competes directly with Saudi Arabia’s Arab Light and other varieties from Iraq and Russia, which have been selling since 2015 at prices more attractive to refiners.
“Asia and Europe have been good alternatives to our main market, which continues to be the United States,” Carrera said.
Pemex exported 1.081 million bpd in April. Of that, 667,000 bpd were sent to the Americas, about 90 percent U.S.-bound. A further 214,000 bpd went to the Far East and 200,000 bpd to Europe.
(Additional reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston; Editing by Peter Cooney)