Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador formally inaugurated a major new oil refinery on Friday, June 1st, a signature project for the leftist leader who argues it will help the country cut a longstanding dependence on foreign gasoline and diesel supplies.
The Olmeca refinery owned and operated by state-run oil company Pemex is billions of dollars over budget and still under construction, but that did not stop Lopez Obrador from headlining a splashy inauguration ceremony at the facility built just off the Gulf coast port of Dos Bocas in his home state of Tabasco.
In a speech, Lopez Obrador dismissed critics who argue that fossil fuels should no longer be part of Mexico’s energy future, while also criticizing past governments for failing to build a new refinery in nearly four decades.
“During all this time, they bet on selling crude oil and then buying gasoline, diesel, and other fuels in foreign lands,” said Lopez Obrador.
But officials have said the Olmeca refinery likely will not be ready to start producing motor fuels until 2023, as months of testing are necessary once construction is complete.
Lopez Obrador himself recently conceded the facility will end up costing between $11 billion-12 billion, not the roughly $8 billion he originally set as its maximum cost.
In April, sources close to the project told Reuters it will cost at least $14 billion while other reports have put the final price tag several billion dollars higher.
Two people familiar with the project who asked to remain anonymous recently declared the new refinery will only be running near capacity by the year 2025.