PEMEX DENIES BIG SHIFT TO FOREIGN-FLAG SHIPS MORE OIL MOVING BY PIPELINE, MEXICAN FIRM SAYS

PEMEX DENIES BIG SHIFT TO FOREIGN-FLAG SHIPS MORE OIL MOVING BY PIPELINE, MEXICAN FIRM SAYS

Mexico's state oil monopoly is not increasing its dependence on foreign charters to move petroleum, and drops in domestic carriage are largely due to use of other transport modes, director Adrian Lajous said in an interview.

Speaking to foreign business reporters at a breakfast meeting late last week, Mr. Lajous said he disagreed with recent articles in Mexican newspapers suggesting that Petroleos Mexicanos was increasing use of foreign vessels at the expense of domestic carriers."We are bettering the levels of pipeline use," Mr. Lajous said.

With greater use of pipelines and expansion of the pipeline network, there is less business for domestic shipping companies to move product along the vast Mexican coastline, he said.

"That's what it affects more than anything, the demand for domestic transportation," Mr. Lajous said.

The largest area where pipeline growth is taking place is in the northern part of Mexico, he said, creating the situation in which Pemex's boost in efficiency spells lost business for vessels moving oil.

"There is therefore a contraction in demand for transportation services," he said.

As for transport of foreign sales of Mexican oil, Mr. Lajous said the state monopoly must run like any other private enterprise and must seek the most attractive transportation bids.

Pemex is unwilling to pay higher prices "for the flag of the vessel," he said. If that means domestic companies lose out then so be it, he suggested.

Among those not complaining about Pemex's contracting practices is Transportacion Maritima Mexicana (TMM), Mexico's largest steamship line. Tanker movements on behalf of Pemex boosted TMM's non-liner revenue by 23.7 percent for the first half of 1995 over the amount for the same six months in 1994.

In 1992, TMM began operating two product tankers carrying Pemex shipments. The operations have grown to six tankers under long-term contract for Pemex. TMM also operates two tankers in the spot market.