Mexican President Felipe Calderon was present for the re-launch of state-owned Pemex's Lazaro Cardenas refinery after a renovation that cost 42 billion pesos ($3.62 billion).

The investment outlay makes the facility in Minatitlan, Veracruz, "the most modern in Latin America," Calderon said, adding that the reconfiguration was so extensive that "truly a new refinery for Petroleos Mexicanos" has been inaugurated.

With the upgrade, the refinery's processing capacity will climb from about 160,000 barrels of crude per day to as much as 285,000 bpd and daily gasoline output will more than double from 45,000 barrels to 93,000 barrels, the president said.

That higher production will enable Mexico to substitute fuel imports and save Pemex more than $5 billion annually, Calderon said.

"It's paradoxical that, despite producing oil, we Mexicans have to import almost half of the gasoline we consume," he said.

The president noted that a lack of investment in the sector for many years had resulted in outdated facilities and deteriorated operating conditions.

Calderon said his administration has earmarked 286 billion pesos ($24.65 billion) this year to strengthen and modernize Pemex and is determined to situate the company at the vanguard of developments in the global oil industry.

"That's four times more investment for Pemex than what was invested in 2000," he said.

Thanks to the higher outlays, the company has sharply increased its reserve-replacement ratio to 100 percent, up from "just twenty-something-percent" in 2000, a proportion that had jeopardized "not only Pemex's future, but also that of the country," the president said.

The reserve-replacement ratio measures the amount of proven reserves added to a company's reserve base during the year versus the amount of oil and gas produced.

Current investment levels ensure oil output "not only for a few years but for decades," Calderon said.

Lazaro Cardenas, built in 1906, is the country's oldest refinery and used to be the largest in Latin America. It currently encompasses 27 industrial plants spread out over an 800-hectare (1,975-acre) area.

Following the re-launch, it becomes the country's third-largest refinery in terms of crude-processing capacity after Salina Cruz in the southern state of Oaxaca and Tula in the central state of Hidalgo.

Pemex, created after President Lazaro Cardenas nationalized Mexico's oil industry in 1938, accounts for more than 30 percent of government revenues.