U.S. security review stalls sale of Shell Texas refinery to Mexico's Pemex

By Erwin Seba

U.S. security review stalls sale of Shell Texas refinery to Mexico's Pemex
© Reuters/ADREES LATIF FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of the Shell Deer Park Manufacturing Complex is seen in Deer Park, Texas,

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A U.S. national security review has delayed the sale of Royal Dutch Shell’s controlling interest in a Texas refinery to Mexico’s national oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Shell said on Tuesday.

Shell in May disclosed the sale of its 50% interest in the 302,800-barrel-per-day (bpd) Deer Park, Texas, refinery outside Houston to partner Pemex for about $596 million. The closing was expected as early as Wednesday.

Approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is the last hurdle to the transfer of full control of the Texas refinery to Pemex, said people familiar with the matter.

“While we were hopeful we could conclude the sale of the Deer Park refinery earlier in the CFIUS review process, we’re still targeting late 2021 as a closing date for the transfer of Shell’s interest in the refinery,” Shell spokesperson Curtis Smith said.

U.S. security review stalls sale of Shell Texas refinery to Mexico's Pemex
© Reuters/THILO SCHMUELGEN FILE PHOTO: Shell launches REFHYNE hydrogen electrolysis plant in Wesseling

Pemex did not immediately reply to a request for comment. A spokesperson for CFIUS declined to comment.

“There’s no new closing date,” one of the people familiar with the matter said. “Could be next week. Could be early next year.”

U.S. Representative Brian Babin, a Republican representing southeast Texas, said on Tuesday: “Pemex lacks the technical expertise, safety record, and business practices needed to operate a facility of such scale in the United States.”

“Allowing a foreign company run by an administration that is hostile toward American energy producers access to our critical infrastructure endangers my constituents and threatens our national security. I urge CFIUS to reject this sale immediately,” Babin said in a statement issued by his office.

Babin has been critical of the sale since June when he requested a review by the U.S. Treasury and Energy departments.

Under the sale agreement announced in May, Shell will retain control of the Deer Park facility’s chemical plant and the company will have only one refinery in the United States, the 230,611-bpd plant in Norco, Louisiana.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper in Washington and Stefanie Eschenbacher in Mexico City; Editing by David Evans and Peter Cooney)

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