AMLO Celebrates Oil Takeover Anniversary With Vow to Back Pemex

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(Bloomberg) -- Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the nation will continue to support state oil producer Petroleos Mexicanos as the company works to ramp up production at its local refineries and reduce its massive debt load.

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Speaking from Pemex’s headquarters in Mexico City to mark the 86th anniversary of Mexico’s 1930s oil expropriation, AMLO, as the president is known, said the government would keep financially supporting Pemex as the country’s transition to renewable energy remains distant.

“We will continue defending Mexican petroleum and recovering our sovereignty,” AMLO said. “Long live Pemex! Long live Mexico!”

Pemex expects its local refineries to boost output to 1.7 million barrels per day and projects its debt will shrink to around $94.5 billion by the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer Octavio Romero said at the event Monday.

“The next government will inherit a stronger Pemex, with growing production and reserves,” and lower debt levels, Romero said.

Since coming to power in late 2018, AMLO has repeatedly promised Mexico would become self-sufficient in oil products, but has largely fallen short as Pemex’s output has failed to meaningfully rebound from a decades-long slide.

Pemex’s annual production has fallen by roughly half from about 20 years ago while its debt has swelled to the highest of any oil producer in the world, at around $106 billion by the end of 2023.

AMLO has sought to dial back his predecessor’s energy reforms, which opened Mexico’s oil sector to private investment after almost eight decades in which Pemex held a monopoly. He promised to return Pemex to its former glory and set about building Dos Bocas, the company’s seventh refinery, in his home state of Tabasco to increase fuel output.

Pemex has traditionally used the March 18 expropriation anniversary to tout new projects and discoveries. In some cases, though, the announcements have involved initiatives that are eventually canceled or finds that were made by previous administrations.

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