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Mexico's Pemex eyeing later refinery start-up date, months after initial announcement

(Reuters) - Mexican state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos is working to nail down the start-up date at its newest refinery, months after the government said it had begun early output to ramp up to full capacity by December.

The Dos Bocas refinery, in the Gulf state of Tabasco, was set to be fully operational and close to producing commercial-grade diesel and gasoline this month, former Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said in September.

The refinery, which is to process 340,000 barrels per day (bpd) at full capacity, has said it had received its first load of crude and begun refining it.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had also said the refinery, with a price tag which has more than doubled the initial estimate of $8 billion, would be producing tens of thousands of barrels a day by the end of the year.

Both deadlines were met with skepticism from analysts and the top Pemex executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity, noting that a series of pipeline connections and tests are needed at the refining before it can ramp up production.

Pemex said late Wednesday the refinery was still being inspected.

Pemex CEO Octavio Romero visited the site "with the objective of reviewing how the facilities will operate and planning start-up dates for the project," the oil firm said on its X social media account.

Pemex did immediately not respond to a request for comment.

Romero was still in Tabaso on Thursday, a source told Reuters. He met with Lopez Obrador earlier this week at the refinery.

Neither the government nor Pemex have given further insight into the refinery's status. Mexico has for years struggled with its expensive, obsolete refining system, and the president has heavily propped up the indebted oil company during his administration.

With its six active domestic refineries, Pemex is processing less than half of its combined capacity of 1.6 million bpd.

Lopez Obrador had promised to achieve fuel self-sufficiency by 2024, when his term ends. In addition to Dos Bocas, Pemex purchased a refinery in Texas and is building two coker plants, though Pemex continues to import massive quantities of gasoline and diesel.

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