At the gas pump, curb your expectations

A month ago a perfectly usable PEMEX located on the way into town was demolished and barely three weeks later—in what must be a new Mexican construction speed record—it was replaced by a gleaming bright-green BP station, as in London-based British Petroleum, although those two potentially problematic English words were nowhere to be found.

Welcome to a new world, or at least a new color scheme.

The re-uniformed gas jockeys, who must have been sent to intensive enthusiasm school, greeted customers as if they were cousins who’d just returned from a nine-month stint the U.S. hanging drywall, and extolled the virtues of the new operation as they filled our tank.

Will the gas be any cheaper? I asked. No, one guy answered, but the BP gas is superior and better for your engine because it contains a secret ingredient called “Tecnología Active.” Stew and I rolled our eyes.

Meanwhile, I read that PEMEX has opened five stations in Houston, where it also co-owns a refinery with Shell Oil Co. Some of the PEMEX stations in Houston come with an adjacent Taco Shack.

Friends reported yesterday that gas at a Costco store outside of San Antonio was going for around two dollars a gallon or half of what PEMEX charges its compatriots south of the border.

Surely, PEMEX must be selling cheap gas in Texas otherwise how could they have any business? Does that mean cheap gas may be coming our way?

Slow down, pardner, you’re going too fast.

But if BP and PEMEX keep selling gas for the same price down here, what’s the point of having different gas stations, except for the more cheerful BP green scheme and the turbocharged staff?

Surprise at the pump. 

Does the appearance of BP here foretell the advent of real price competition at gas stations in Mexico, or perhaps the gradual dismantlement of the government-owned, epically corrupt PEMEX monopoly which Mexicans have cherished for decades as a family heirloom and a symbol of national pride?

Too many questions, bubba.

Initial customer reaction indicates Mexican consumers don’t care about—or don’t know—the difference between PEMEX or BP. Yesterday the new station had a line of customers out to the sidewalk, as usual. The gasoline could be coming from the Caspian Sea.

Can we expect—in our lifetimes—to see gas stations at Costcos and Walmarts in Mexico selling discounted gasoline? And PEMEX putting up signs with the prices of the various fuels, so drivers can decide where to get their gas?

Better sit down, guy. Now you’re hallucinating.


7 thoughts on “At the gas pump, curb your expectations

  1. Enough with the pessimism. I am optimistic. In time, we will have price competition at gas stations. Hasn't happened yet, of course, but my optimism will prove justified. Take it to the bank, amigo.


  2. Anonymous

    A large part of what one pays for gasoline is taxes. That means that the price of the product can only be reduced so much and then the profit margin isn't there.Robert GillPhoenix, AZ


  3. Robert: The deal with gas prices is far more complicated that taxes. PEMEX is a income gusher for the government, in lieu of other taxes. So historically the prices of gas has gone up according to the cash needs of the government, not market forces. It's an insidious system that is inherently regressive in that it hits poor people the


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