Sánchez, left, and Treviño: a scourge for Pemex. Sánchez, left, and Treviño: a scourge for Pemex.

Fuel theft costs Pemex 30 billion pesos a year

The amount is much higher than previous estimates had suggested

Fuel theft costs the state oil company Pemex 30 billion pesos (US $1.6 billion) a year, chief executive officer Carlos Treviño said yesterday.

The revelation of the extent of the financial damage caused by the crime follows the release of a Pemex report last week, which shows that Mexico’s state-owned pipelines continue to bleed fuel at record levels.

Previous estimates have placed annual revenue losses from pipeline theft at around US $1 billion.  Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo, México state, Querétaro, Tlaxcala, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Michoacán are the worst affected states.

At a joint press conference with presidential spokesman Eduardo Sánchez, Treviño explained that Pemex has detected cases where its own employees have been complicit in the crime and has acted decisively when it has done so.

“Pemex is a victim of this scourge. In Pemex, we have zero tolerance and when we’ve found someone we believe is involved, we’ve reported him and we’ve fired him, that’s the way it’s always been,” he said.

Since the middle of 2016, Treviño said, a joint strategy with the Secretariat of Finance and the armed forces has been implemented to combat the crime and stressed that it is working, although he conceded that fuel theft is on the rise.

“One of the things that we did last year was arrest 1,600 people who were caught red-handed committing the crime, and around 1,300 face a judicial process in that respect. We also stopped more than 1,600 vehicles, which were seized and are under the protection of authorities, and recovered more than 14 million liters of stolen fuel,” he said.

The CEO attributed the continuing high prevalence of the crime to a “cockroach effect” and said that even though the current strategy is paying dividends, more needs to be done to combat it.

“This effect is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, we do something, we beat them for a while, then they come up with another strategy,” he said.

“. . . The more complaints there are from citizens, the faster we will find these criminals,” Treviño added.

He also stressed that the company’s finances are “stable” despite the massive losses it has suffered.

In respect to Pemex’s future, the CEO said that he will advise the new federal administration, which will take office in December, to continue with the company’s current business plan, which takes advantage of the energy reform implemented in 2014.

Sánchez added that all companies that seek to do business with Pemex in the future will be fully investigated to establish their legal and economic position as part of a new compliance program aimed at avoiding signing contracts with companies that are involved in criminal activity.

Former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya has been accused of receiving US $10 million in bribes from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in exchange for the awarding of contracts for a refinery in Tula, Hidalgo. Lozoya has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Federal authorities said last month that 65 Pemex employees are subject to ongoing corruption investigations, including 23 with alleged links to Odebrecht.

The objective of the new strategy, the spokesman said, is to “promote a business environment with high ethical standards in which Pemex, its partners, its suppliers and clients can generate the greatest value for Mexicans.”

Source: Milenio (sp)

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