Mexico's energy regulatory commission (CRE) continues favouring state-owned Pemex, as it has granted the vast majority of new retail fuel station permits to Pemex-branded stations so far in 2023.
So far this year, from the total 145 retail fuel station permits approved, 93pc or 135 permits were granted to Pemex-branded stations, resulting in only 10 permits for private-branded stations, according to CRE's data tracked by Argus.
Out of the 10 permits approved for private-branded stations, seven were issued to Shell stations, while ExxonMobil, G500 and Repsol were granted one permit each.
At the end of 2022, bureaucratic issues and delays related to the Covid-19 pandemic led to a backlog of 1,000 permits pending CRE approval. Pemex and non-Pemex operators have requested permits for retail fuel station operations, wholesale fuel sales, fuel distribution permits and electricity-related permits.
Retailers expect the government to continue to favour Pemex-branded stations in the coming months, as it seeks to quell competition, one fuel station owner told Argus ahead of the annual Onexpo meeting of retailers in Acapulco, Mexico, this week.
In May, the CRE approved 63 new retail fuel station permits, despite a 50 permit-per-month limit set by the regulator earlier this year.
The surge in permit approvals was driven by pressure from eight federal judges who last month granted several permanent injunctions against the new CRE regulation, which limits the number of permits granted per month.