The gasoline shortage has worsened in at least six states and will persist in the coming days, a situation which President López Obrador reiterated today is due to logistics rather than a lack of supply.
Shortages in Michoacán, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, México state and Jalisco were first reported on December 31, meaning that motorists in those states are now entering a second week without any certainty that they will be able to fill up.
López Obrador told a press conference Friday that the state oil company is making greater use of tanker trucks to transport fuel rather than pipelines as part of the strategy to combat fuel theft, explaining that was the cause of the gas shortages.
In Michoacán, the shortage has affected 320 gas stations, especially those located in the state capital, Morelia.
Some stations operated by private companies, such as G500, have closed completely while many of those operated by Pemex have imposed 10-liter limits on gas purchases or are only operating a few hours a day.
At least 90 gas stations in Querétaro have been affected by the shortages while over the past week, Guanajuato has only received enough fuel to meet one-third of demand.
Long lines of cars were seen waiting at gas stations over the weekend in the latter state, the news website Noticieros Televisa reported. Lineups in many cases were over a kilometer long, according to another report. Some motorists even slept in their cars to ensure that they would be able to fill up.
Among the municipalities affected are Guanajuato, León, Silao, Irapuato, Salamanca, Celaya, Apaseo El Alto, Apaseo El Grande, Comonfort and Yuriria.
In Hidalgo, Pachuca and the Mezquital Valley area are the hardest hit by the shortage, with many gas stations only able to offer premium fuel.
Almost 200 gas stations in 14 México state municipalities now have no gas while 80% of all gas stations in Guadalajara, Jalisco, are in the same situation.
Jalisco has received just 10% of the fuel it requires over the past week and many gas stations are imposing limits on the amount of fuel they will sell.
Pemex said in a statement that the fuel shortages in the six aforementioned states will continue, adding that while there have been distribution delays “there is enough product to cover demand.”
At a press conference this morning, López Obrador again stressed that the lack of gas in some states was due to the government’s decision to close some petroleum pipelines and instead transport fuel by tanker truck.
“I can say . . . to all Mexicans that we have enough gasoline, there is no shortage problem, what we’re paying attention to is its distribution. We’re not opening the pipelines so that there are no leaks [via illegal taps] . . .” he said.
However, one pipeline was reopened yesterday. Guanajuato Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez said the Salamanca-León pipeline was put back into service to supply gas stations in the state.
López Obrador said the government was committed to resolving the shortage problem but declined to say how long it would take.
“We’re going to confront it and resolve it. How long is it going to take us? It will depend on who tires first [between] those who steal fuel and us . . . I’m persistent, we know that it’s not going to be easy but we’re not going to waver,” he said.
The president also said that an additional 900 soldiers would be deployed today to strengthen surveillance of Pemex infrastructure.
“Today, the surveillance plan using elements of the army is going to be strengthened and we’re going to continue to strengthen it but the supply [of gas] is going to return to normal and at the same time we’re going to guarantee that fuel isn’t stolen,” López Obrador said.
He said that the government’s anti-fuel theft strategy is “progressing well,” claiming that while theft hasn’t stopped completely it has “declined a lot.”
López Obrador urged fuel thieves known as huachicoleros to give up their lives of crime.
“. . . Now there are alternatives in the legal, formal economy . . . Young people can sign up as apprentices and he who wants to open a business has access to cheap credit,” he said.
“I call on all people to not fall into criminality. An illegal act is never justified and even less so when there are [other] options.”