Repsol and Acciona are in the trigger of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president of Mexico. A Repsol subsidiary has been removed from the country’s importers registry, while an Acciona plant could see its operating permit suspended for causing a massive blackout on December 28, 2020, according to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
On Monday, December 19, the Mexican government removed Repsol Downstream Mexico and to 81 other companies on the list of importers in the energy sector. The measure, which also affects a Total subsidiary, was taken because the 82 taxpayers “did not meet the requirements” to be part of the registry, according to a statement that gives little details about the decision.
Any company that wants to bring merchandise to Mexico must be included in the list of importers. Currently, Repsol only has registered the subsidiary Repsol Exploración México.
Repsol has purchase and import agreements with other companies, so the suspension will not affect its operations, according to a statement from the oil company chaired by Antonio Brufau. “Repsol faithfully and respectfully complies with all legal, tax and market obligations in Mexico.”
López Obrador against Repsol
Repsol aspires to have a network of 1,000 gas stations in Mexico to have an 8% -10% market share in 2022. It foresees an investment close to 400 million euros to achieve that goal.
It opened its first service stations in March 2018, after the liberation of the oil sector promoted by Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico until December 2018.
The oil company is one of the Spanish companies most criticized by López Obrador, who publicly accuses it of being one of the most favored by the Peña Nieto and Felipe Calderón governments (2006-2012).
“Acts of corruption were committed by Spanish companies. We have cases like Repsol’s, with very juicy contracts for them and very bad for Mexico’s public finances, ”the president said recently at a press conference.
Mexico received 18% of Repsol’s exploration investments in 2020. It has more than 250 service stations and six offshore exploration blocks, three deep water and three shallow water. He obtained all six blocks in 2018, before the arrival of López Obrador.
Act in trouble
For its part, the state electricity company CFE has requested the CRE regulator to suspend the generation permits of private plants that are not reliable for the sustainability of the electricity system.
The request is part of a package of measures to prevent blackouts like the one on December 28, 2020, which affected more than 10 million people. According to the CFE, the accident was caused by the interconnection processes of the San Carlos wind power plant, owned by Acciona.
The CFE does not rule out taking legal action against Acciona. “If there are crimes, we prosecute them,” said CFE CEO Manuel Bartlett, according to the Mexican newspaper El Financiero.
Mexico wants to strengthen CFE and Pemex
These actions by the Mexican government are part of the rule change for private companies in the energy sector with the intention of strengthening CFE and the state oil company Pemex.
In the oil sector, López Obrador has eliminated regulations that limit Pemex’s participation in the gas station market. The objective of those laws was to encourage competition because Pemex has the largest network of service stations.
The market share of the state oil company has fallen since 2016, when private companies were allowed in. Until that date, the sale of fuels was a monopoly of Pemex.
With the intention that the government company remain the leader in the sector, López Obrador eliminated those pro-competition regulations.
The regulatory change has not yet entered into force after being halted by a judge.
In the electricity sector, the Mexican government has recently approved another reform that gives priority to the purchase of energy generated by CFE over that produced by private companies.
Before the reform, those produced by renewable sources were the first to enter the electrical system, a measure that encouraged private investment in wind or solar plants.
76% of the electricity that CFE generates is using fossil fuels. Most of the energy generated by renewable sources is in the hands of private companies.
Iberdrola is the largest private energy producer in Mexico.
The reform of the electricity sector is in force, according to López Obrador’s spokesman.