Slammed by a 70 percent increase in illegal pipeline taps in one year, Mexico’s state oil company announced Tuesday that it will no longer ship finished, usable gasoline or diesel through its network of ducts.
Analysts said it was a striking admission of Mexico’s inability to stop the fuel thefts, in which thieves drill into pipelines operated by Petroleos Mexicanos more than 10 times each day, on average.
“This is a big admission of the vulnerability of Pemex,” said George Baker, publisher of the Houston-based newsletter Mexico Energy Intelligence.
Petroleos Mexicanos, known as Pemex, said the number of illegal taps rose to 3,674 in 2014, up 70 per cent from 2013 and 137 per cent over 2012 figures. The market for illegal gasoline and diesel, in which drug cartels have been implicated, has more than doubled in the last two years.
Pemex lost an estimated $1.15 billion in fuel thefts in the first nine months of 2014, according to the latest figure available.