Trucks and buses can continue to run with diesel with 500 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur, considered “dirty” under international standards, until December 2021, a spokeswoman for the ministry said in response to questions from Reuters.
Mexico does not produce enough ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) to satisfy demand, the industry has argued.
The energy ministry recognized that state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) would face difficulties in the distribution of “cleaner” diesel because of measures put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, a source at the committee meeting said.
Mexico’s energy ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The decision comes after the country’s energy regulator, CRE, extended a deadline to allow Pemex to continue selling “dirty” diesel until 2025.
Sticking with high-sulfur fuel would save Mexico money by limiting fuel imports and extending a time-frame for truck makers to install ULSD-compatible engines.
However, it risks adding to the perception that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government is backsliding on environmental commitments.
Mexico’s truck and bus manufacturing association ANPACT requested last year that rules to use only ultra-low sulfur technologies be postponed.
It cited uncertainty about whether ultra-low sulfur diesel would be available because of Pemex’s supply challenges. Reporting by Sharay Angulo; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Richard Pullin