(Adds quote, details on capacity and earlier refinery announcement)
MEXICO CITY, May 10 (Reuters) - Mexico will be self sufficient in its gasoline needs in three years, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday, once a major new refinery he wants to build is due to be completed.
“We’re going to be self-sufficient in the production of gasoline in May of 2022,” Lopez Obrador told reporters during his regular morning news conference.
Construction of the new Dos Bocas refinery, which state oil company Pemex will oversee after the government on Thursday turned down bids by private firms for the job, is also due to be completed by May 2022.
Many oil industry analysts believe a three-year time frame for the refinery is optimistic, but the president doubled down on the target during his news conference.
Mexico has grown increasingly dependent on mostly U.S. fuel imports in recent years as Pemex’s domestic refineries have produced less due to longstanding problems including deferred maintenance and chronic accidents, forcing the firm to import nearly 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) last year.
Pemex produced an average of about 207,000 bpd of gasoline in 2018.
Lopez Obrador, an energy nationalist, won a landslide election victory last year pledging to wean Mexico off of fuel imports and produce more at home.
The president said that the Dos Bocas refinery will have a crude processing capacity of 300,000 bpd.
Senior government officials have previously said that the facility will be able to process 340,000 bpd. It was not immediately clear if the president was revising the refinery’s planned capacity, or rounding figures. (Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Sharay Angulo Editing by Susan Thomas)