Mexico restricts imports of dozens of petroleum and petrochemical products

By Stefanie Eschenbacher and Adriana Barrera

MEXICO CITY, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Mexico has put restrictions on the import of dozens of refined petroleum and petrochemical products to curb fuel theft and adulteration, its official gazette showed on Monday, including certain types of gasoline and diesel, jet fuel and additives.

Despite being an important crude oil producer, the country imports refined petroleum and petrochemical products because its ailing refineries struggle to process the heavy crude oil state energy company Pemex produces.

Mexico said the measures were meant to tackle the rampant black market of stolen and adulterated fuel, which poses a risk to human health, the environment and vehicles.

“This is very serious,” said Julia Gonzalez, an energy lawyer who specializes in Mexican constitutional law. “Because they’re restricting the import of a lot of products that are used for multiple processes.”

The decree covers jet fuel as well as certain types of gasoline and diesel, including biodiesel, that are not widely used. It also covers certain naphthas, alcohols, waxes and mineral oils, and additives including methyl tert-butyl ether.

A Reuters review of Mexican import data showed that the most important refined petroleum and petrochemical products the country imports – premium and regular gasoline, and conventional diesel – were not affected.

However, it was not immediately clear what impact the measures would have on the many industries that use them.

The decree, published in the late edition of the official gazette, will be effective a day after publication and lasts indefinitely.

Marcial Diaz, a former Pemex official turned consultant at Qua Energy, warned that while the measures could help clamp down on rampant black market practices, they “affect other industries that use these inputs in their processes.”

The energy ministry can issue special import permits, the decree said, adding that other government entities will also make adjustments to processes. (Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher and Ariana Barrera; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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