Baja Gas Stations and Gas Update

Vintage image of gas can from old sheet music.

The “gas station gap” of 200 miles between El Rosario and Jesus Maria is still there, but these days you’ll find “angeles” selling fuel out of gas cans at Cataviña and Punta Prieta. Expect to pay a dollar and a half more per gallon. In the winter, fierce winds in the gulf can delay the unloading of fuel barges in La Paz, which can causes shortages in Guerrero Negro, Santa Rosalia, Mulege and Loreto. But these scattered outages are getting fewer and fewer.

ULSD (UBA) ultra low sulfur diesel is now available all over the northern state. As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to get regular diesel. The limit of the ULSD includes the gas station at Jesus Maria 25 miles north of Guerrero Negro. This means ULSD is reliably available for a distance of 425 miles south of the border. I personally checked with Pemex and further verified this fact with a pipa (tanker) driver, who was dumping fuel at the Jesus Maria gasolinera. All the fuel for this station originates at the Pemex tank farm north of Ensenada at El Sauzal.

6 Responses to “Baja Gas Stations and Gas Update”

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  1. Graham Strachan says:

    Does anyone know if ULSD is available in the southern Baja??? I hear from “Baja Amigos” that it is?? Can anyone with a newer model diesel tell me if they had any problems f they had to use LSD.

    Thinking of going in Jan 2015

    Thanks

    Cheers,
    Graham

  2. -El Codo- says:

    Sorry but the state line between Baja California and Baja California Sur is the southern extent of 115 ULSD (“UBA” diesel fuel on the peninsula. 100% guarantee that from Guerrero Negro south, the diesel is just plain 300 PPM maximum sulfur “Bajo Azufre” not ULTRA BAJO AZUFRE.which is 15 ppm max.

    Some of these travel clubs operate via an agenda. No travelers means, no membership interest or sales.

    There are more Baloney stories circulating about diesel in Mexico than I can keep track of.

    Baja Norte gets diesel and gasoline from the USA SOLELY because it is so remote from any terminals on the mainland (Topolobampo is the closest and they do not have 2% of the barges needed to feed north Baja. Plus the barge company is private not PEMEX. Sailboats call the northward passage up the Pacific Baja coast “The Bash” for a reason.

    The Topolobampo barges transport fuel to Pichilingue near La Paz which feeds 100% of the gasolineras in Baja California Sur with made in Mexico comistible (except for 100% made in the USA PEMEX premium grage gasoline.)

    Pipas, tanker trucks load in Pichilingue at the tank farm there and transport as far north as Guerrero Negro, but not an inch beyond. The gasolinera in Villa Jesus Maria 33 miles north of Guerrero Negro gets deliveries from the tank farm just north of Ensenada, hence USA refined products end at the gasolinera in Jesus Maria. Keep in mind however from Tijuana to Tapachula, Matamoros to Chetumal, all of the red pump PREMIUM grade gasoline, every last drop is refined in the USA. MEXICO DOES NOT ALLOW ONE DROP OF ETHANOL TO BE ADDED TO GASOLINE. This is by law. There is already a shortage of corn grown here and sugar production barely keeps up with soft drink sweetener demand. If you like alcohol free gasoline Mexico is the place to get it!

    PEMEX does use made in Mexico diesel in Baja norte. But it is DIESEL MARINA refined in Salina Cruz refinacion and is strictly controlled. Marine only. Pumped only into vessels and tons of paperwork. This diesel has 500+ PPM of sulfur and is distinctly yellow. It is essentially unchanged diesel fuel that was sold all over Mexico in the 70’s and 80’s.

    Baja norte also uses at times diesel refined in Japan! Many tests confirm this fuel tests out at ZERO ppm sulfur! The fuel is off loaded at the offshore tanker terminal near Rosarito Baja California and then piped to Ensenada. This is how the giant CFE plant and seawater distillation plant (for Tijuana) gets it fuel which is #6 fuel oil, which is syrupy black and only used in industry to fire boilers and process heaters

    Refining ULSD is expensive, and needs very special extensive refinery modifications. Pemex releases ZERO info about how the ULSD developmental process is going. BUT and this is important, by federal law the first drop of made in Mexico ULSD goes to Mexico DF. Titanic emissions scandals have rocked the capitol the last several years. When Mexico City gets ULSD the mountains will shake and trees will quiver in Canada. The news will herald its arrival. You wont be able to avoid hearing or reading about it.

    Petroleos Mexicanos is putting a lot of effort into upgrading refineries to manufacture UBA GASOLINE so Pemex won’t have to purchase ultra low sulfur gasoline from north of the border. The date for this has not been announced. Pemex has said through news releases that “Until UBA diesel is available to every gasolinera in Mexico, Franquicias, which means franchisee gasolineras are forbidden to post any signage about UBA diesel. I have read pure bruhah where a tourist sees a banner advertising LOW SULFUR DIESEL. These are OLD banners, recently dug out of storage. Pemex authorized use of the banners decades ago when high sulfur (now only for marine use -above) was replaced with ‘Low Sulfur Diesel” But bear in mind, Low sulfur diesel is light years different than UBA. 300 parts per million sulfur versus 15 for UBA This is why even within the narrow corridor strip with the US border, no station advertises UBA diesel even though in the 15 to 20 km wide corridor diesel fuel is most certainly Ultra Low Sulfur. USA emissions standards agreements demanded cross border commercial trucks enter the USA burning ultra low sulfur diesel

    But Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel in Baja California Sur…is something that’s going to happen in the future and I hope it’s sooner rather than later. But do look for news about UBA diesel appearing in Mexico City. That is the one and only progress bench mark for Mexico advancing toward the UBA for all diesels waypoint.

    • bill says:

      Thank you!!

      I keep hearing from 3 travel companies that ulsd is available in different parts of the south and they know which stations to stop at.

      Can I have your email to check back with you down the road as I would really like to visit all of the Baja in the future.

      Thanks

      Bill

  3. Tom says:

    I’m in baja norte now and only see one black diesel fuel label at all pemex stations. How do I know if it is ultra low sulfur diesel?

  4. Ed White says:

    While Elcodo seems to have detailed information about the inner workings of Pemex, I maintain detailed information about the reaction of 2007.5 and later diesel pickups to the higher levels of sulfur found in Mexican diesel fuel. I have been accumulating that data since early 2007, shortly before the first DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) equipped vehicles went into production.

    Anyone considering bringing a post-2007 diesel into Mexican can contact me at [email protected] with the specific make and model year and I’ll provide information about what to expect.

    In general terms though, for the years 2007 through 2010, there are no significant issues for Ford, GM, or Dodge using Mexican LSD fuel. There may be occasional smokey regeneration cycles, but that’s about all.

    Starting in 2011, when an SCR (Selective Catalytic Reducer) was added to the emissions systems on Ford and GM vehicles, requiring the use of Diesel Exhaust Fluid, GM vehicles started to experience engine lights coming on, and sometimes DEF warning lights and warnings of speed limitation. These conditions are 100% manageable with the correct information for a particular model year and owners should contact me for specific information.

    As of today, Ford and Dodge vehicles continue to avoid significant issues, with events being limited to engine lights on until returning to the use of ULSD.

    As for Pemex’s plans to introduce ULSD across Mexico, in a media release in September of 2014, Pemex announced that it had set aside more than $5 billion for refinery upgrades including the ability to produce ULSD. The announced timetable would put 60% of the country on ULSD by mid-2015 and the whole country on ULSD by early 2016. The United Nations has posted this information on their fuels monitoring program website. It is my understanding that refurbishing of the first refinery is underway at this time.

  5. Tom says:

    I am in Baja Norte now (18 Feb 2015) and there is NO Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel ANYWHERE.
    We went from Tecate to Ensenada and south of Ensenada, then to San Filipe and found ALL Pemex stations had ONE GRADE of Diesel (a black label with no UBA designation). The station attendants and all locals, mexican and american, no NOTHING about Low Sulfur Diesel.
    I found one Ex-pat local who said they used to have low sulfur diesel, but not any more.
    So, BEWARE, if you’re expecting Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, you’ll be disappointed. We are cutting our trip short to avoid problems with our DPF filter. We are running a 2007 Sprinter that requires ULSD.