The Mexican government will invite four companies to bid in a restricted tender for work building the new Dos Bocas refinery for state oil company Pemex, Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said at a news conference on Monday.
Dos Bocas would be Pemex's seventh domestic refinery and is intended to help wean Mexico off growing fuel imports, a major campaign promise of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December.
Nahle said that the refinery, slated to be built in the Gulf Coast state of Tabasco, has already been granted all required government permits, including for construction.
The energy minister added that the names of the companies selected by the government to participate in the tender would be made public later on Monday during an event to mark the anniversary of the 1938 nationalization of the country's oil industry and the birth of Pemex.
Lopez Obrador, who favors a more state-centric energy model, has been a sharp critic of the previous government's constitutional reform that ended Pemex's decades-long monopoly and allowed private and foreign oil companies to operate exploration and production projects on their own.
The 2019 budget for Petroleos Mexicanos, as Pemex is formally known, calls for spending almost $2.5 billion on the Dos Bocas refinery, which aims to be able to process 340,000 barrels per day (bpd) of heavy crude.
That processing capacity would make the new refinery Pemex's biggest.
Government officials estimate the total cost of the refinery at between $6 billion and $8 billion.
(Reuters,Reporting by Noe Torres, David Alire Garcia and Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Steve Orlofsky)
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