Cars fuel up in Tepoztlan, Morelos. Photo: Getty

As of August, Pemex plans to stop producing Premium and Ultra Premium gasoline in its refineries.

The higher-grade fuel, which is consumed in Mexico at a rate of 107,000 barrels a day, will be instead imported, officials announced.

More than five million vehicles in Mexico require Premium gas, according to the Energy Ministry.

Pemex plans to import 103,000 barrels per day of Premium Ultra Low Sulfur Content at US$88.29 per barrel and 3,000 more barrels of Premium at US$83.32.

Between December 2018 and January 2019 state-owned Pemex registered a 67% drop in the Premium fuel production. The reduction comes as Mexico continues to open its energy markets to outside companies.

More than 50% of the retail fuel market in Mexico could be operated by private oil companies within three years, according to industry experts.

“If we consider that Pemex has already lost 28% of the market since private oil companies started to operate two years ago, as it lacks the capacity to compete with the newcomers, it is likely that Pemex will lose at least 50% of the market share within two, maximum three years,” Oilnova CEO Antonio Roldán told El Norte.

Of 12,551 service stations in Mexico, 2,470 are operated by private brands such as Shell, BP, Chevron and Exxon, according to the National Organization of Petroleum Exporters.

Meanwhile, Pemex CEO Octavio Romero Oropeza said that fuel thefts are down 90%, but looting continues to be a problem. In June, 109 barrels of Premium gasoline sent down the Tuxpan-Poza-Rica-Azcapotzalco pipeline disappeared before reaching its destination, according to one media report.