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Highlights

Company evaluates opportunities to move fuel oil out of Mexico

KCS interested in railing light crude oil for Mexican refineries

Company is confident on the continuation of the energy reform

Mexico City — Kansas City Southern increased the number of fuel carloads moved into Mexico from the US by 164% year over year in the third quarter of 2018, the company said Tuesday.

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The Missouri-based railroad company moved 13,355 carloads of refined products in Q3 2018, up from 5,132 carloads during the same period a year ago, the company said at its quarterly earnings call. Compared with the second quarter of 2018, KCS moved 33% more refined products carloads.

KCS moved an average of 106,100 b/d of LPG, gasoline and diesel during Q3 2018. A typical refined products carload hold 715 barrels of fuel. The company did not break down the share of each refined products of the total carload. However, the company has previously said half of the company's refined products carloads in 2017 were LPG shipments.

"We expect this accelerated growth phase to continue over the coming years as result of the new terminals coming online," Brian Hancock, KCS's executive vice president, said during the earnings call.

The use of cars is critical, and starting operation of new storage capacity will increase KCS's transportation efficiencies compared with unloading product by direct transload to trucks at train terminals, Hancock said.

The use of unit trains with direct transload is currently creating congestion in KCS's transportation system, increasing the importance of completing storage capacity to make the supply chain more balanced, he added.

CONFIDENCE IN NEW GOVERNMENT

Pat Ottensmeyer, KCS's CEO, said he is confident the new Mexican government, led by President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will continue the energy reform in the fuels market.

"We are positive with the messages coming from the incoming administration, and we are engaging with new government officials," Ottensmeyer said.

At the company's investor presentation, KCS said it is looking for opportunities to move fuel oil from Mexican refineries to the US. However, company executives did not discuss this opportunity during the earnings call.

A senior Mexican government official told S&P Global Platts that the lack of infrastructure to export fuel oil is limiting the operation of some refineries.

For example, the 190,000-b/d Madero refinery lacks efficient logistics to evacuate fuel production amid a domestic decrease in fuel oil consumption for power generation in Mexico, the official said.

At the company's presentation, KCS also said it is evaluating opportunities to assist in crude oil swaps to rail light crude oil into Mexican refineries. According to estimates from Mexican energy consulting firm Marcos y Asociados, if Mexico had enough light crude feedstock, it could raise crude processing levels from 40% to 60%.

Lower shipments of frack sand and coal to Texas utilities decreased the delivery of energy non-fuel carloads by 8% in Q3 year on year. Increasing competition from in-basin sands has cut KCS's shipments, the company said. However, higher crude deliveries from Canada partially offset this decrease into the US, the company said.

UPDATE ON TERMINALS

At its quarterly results presentation, KCS gave an update on unit train terminals under development in Mexico.

KCS is using as origin terminals Jefferson Energy Companies' facility in Beaumont, Texas, and Howard Energy Partners' terminal in Corpus Christi, Texas, for fuel exports.

Bulkmatic, a US transportation company, is expected to complete construction of 420,000 barrels of fuel storage capacity at Salinas Victoria in the greater Monterrey Metropolitan area in the third quarter of 2019.

TCM - a joint venture including KCS, Watco Companies and WTC Industrial - is expected to complete construction of 300,000 barrels of fuel storage capacity at its San Luis Potosi terminal in first-quarter 2019.

Gas Natural del Noreste's San Jose de Iturbide terminal in the state of Guanajuato has completed 510,000 barrels of fuel storage capacity, and it is building an additional 185,000 barrels of storage capacity scheduled for fourth-quarter 2019.

Mexican fuel marketer Avant Energy's SUPERA Network is expected to begin operations in Q1 2019, which will create a new supply route from a marine terminal in Altamira to Queretaro.

The marine terminal at Tamaulipas will have 1.2 million barrels of storage capacity while the Queretaro facility will be able to store 420,000 barrels of refined products.

The company is looking for investment opportunities for new refined products terminals in Mexico.

-- Daniel Rodriguez, daniel.rodriguez@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Jennifer Pedrick, newsdesk@spglobal.com