May 27, 2020 | 5:00 am

The storage of hydrocarbons continues to be one of the great pending aspects after the energy reform, mainly due to the lack of public and private initiative projects that can expand the volumetric capacity available in Mexico.

“There is a stagnation because there is no confidence that you are going to see a return,” said David Rosales, partner at Midstream & Downstream at the consulting firm Talanza Energy. “The perception of political risk is getting bigger.”

Rosales expressed that Mexican investors are more likely to continue looking for investments, but he estimated that this is complicated in the short term, because even government permits are stopped, and there is no clarity in the storage policy.

According to a study conducted by OPIS, 13 import terminals were expected to be operational by the end of 2020, but the crisis caused by the pandemic could cut that number in half.

The current private storage capacity is around 4.3 million barrels, with prospects to grow 600% by the end of next year, which represents a significant rise in the curve, although perhaps a little late.

“The problem is that in the gasoline sector you are talking about (that there was) absolute control of Pemex in distribution, and that is very difficult to open,” said Adrián Calcaneo, director of liquids and midstream at IHS Markit.

The expert indicated that many of the strategies that Pemex is using to protect its market may be a consequence of the bad experience that the company had after opening the private liquefied gas market previously.

Unlike gasoline, the L.P. it is an almost coincidental success story. The lack of budget at Pemex allowed private companies to establish import terminals to serve the state company itself in exchange for royalties. “At the time of the opening of the L.P. in 2016 there were already terminals and storage built by private companies, it was not started from scratch, ”said Calcaneo.

The existence of this infrastructure allowed private companies to venture into starting their own import chains, causing Pemex to lose 50% of the market in less than 18 months.

“I understand that the gas stations are frustrated (due to the lack of infrastructure), but it is starting from a starting point with less progress and Pemex is more defensive after what happened to the gas,” said Calcaneo.

Despite the little progress made to date, companies such as Shell, Chevron, BP and ExxonMobil are at different stages of projects that seek to make their operations independent of the fuel sold by Pemex, which requires its own infrastructure.

“The most important thing at the moment is to argue that investors operate only where there is legal certainty. It is not that they have to guarantee investments, but that the rules will not change, “said Rosales.