At the start of each month we usually post examples of new investment in Mexican industry, such as announcements of new manufacturing or processing plants and expansion of existing ones. For April 2020, we are disappointed to report that we have no such examples to share, due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown. We imagine that some companies are taking advantage of mandatory plant closures to clean, reorganize or upgrade their facilities, but we have not read about these so we are just going to have to accept our first shutout in the 11 years we have had the privilege of publishing this investment list. As with so many repercussions of COVID-19, you think you’ve seen it all, but it turns out you haven’t.
The media have done an admirable job covering the crisis, but for those of you who don’t follow Mexico closely, here is a very cursory summary of approximately where we are at the start of May 2020: Continue reading No new investment this month→
Local media are reporting this week that multiple requests for injunctions have been filed before Mexican courts to suspend the changes to NOM-016-CRE-2016, which regulates gasoline quality in the country. As we posted last month, Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) updated the NOM in June to allow up to 10% ethanol content (E10) in automotive gasoline, provoking high fives in the ethanol industry and rending of garments among environmental groups. Apparently the latest injunction request was filed by Gabriel Quadri – environmental consultant, erstwhile presidential candidate and ajonjolí de todos los moles medioambientales – who noted that other individuals and civil society organizations also have filed injunction requests (other sources cited the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda) and Consumer Power (EPC) as having filed prior injunction requests). Quadri’s legal filing demands specifically that national oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and other oil companies be prohibited from selling ethanol-blended fuel in the country, according to the reports in multiple media.
As per local custom, details on the whole affair are fuzzier than a baby hedgehog. The reports say a response from Mexico City’s Administrative Tribunal is expected next week, but we will not be holding our breath on that one. Nonetheless, considering that the CRE requested and received an exemption to the requirement of submitting a Regulatory Impact Statement (MIR) from the Federal Regulatory Improvement Commission (Cofemer) in order to increase the permitted ethanol content, one would think there could be grounds for granting the injunction. Quadri and other injunction-seekers are calling for a systematic process of scientific and technical analysis of the environmental and health impacts of E10 gas before any changes are approved to the NOM. We will continue to report on this topic as further information becomes available.
Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) published modifications to the country’s fuel quality standard, NOM-016-CRE-2016, on June 26, 2017, stoking an ongoing kerfuffle among parties on either side of the ethanol-as-fuel debate. Beyond the philosophical grandstanding, the changes to the reg have potential to impact the evolution of the fuel industry in Mexico and as is often the case, they are generating no small amount of confusion.
Over the past 10 years, national oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has repeatedly announced its intention to introduce gasoline containing ethanol into the Mexican market, only to suspend the effort for one reason or another each time, most recently in 2015. The standard permitting up to 5.8% ethanol as an oxygenate in gasoline has been on the books since August 2016, yet as best we can determine, gasoline currently sold in Mexico is oxygenated with MTBE rather than ethanol. The recent modifications to the fuel standard include an increase in the maximum allowable percentage of ethanol in gasoline from 5.8% to 10%, clearing the way for the introduction of so-called E10 fuel. The move comes within the context of Mexico’s energy industry reform, which allows for private production, importation and sale of fuels as well as the elimination of government establishment of fuel prices. The elimination of gas price controls at the pump is currently being implemented by region, to culminate in nationwide free market pricing as of January 1, 2018. Continue reading Changes to ethanol NOM prompt fuel market debate→