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The shortages continue, although relief has come for motorists in some states. The shortages continue, although relief has come for motorists in some states.

Governors on side with fuel theft strategy but plead for reopening of pipelines

Congress urged to make fuel theft a serious crime, preventing suspects from being released on bail

The governors of six states affected by fuel shortages expressed their support today for the federal government’s anti-fuel theft strategy but pleaded for pipelines to be reopened.

Following a meeting with federal authorities, including Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle and Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero, the governors of Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacán, México state, Querétaro and Hidalgo told a press conference that pipelines shut by the government to prevent theft must be put back into service.

“. . . Although we understand the necessity to establish a new mechanism for the distribution of gasoline in the country, a task to which we unconditionally join . . . we also need to normalize the situation by opening the Salamanca-Guadalajara pipeline . . .” said Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro.

Guanajuato Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo also said that he supported the government in its fight against fuel theft but added, “in the end, I believe that the pipelines are the solution for this shortage.”

The governor, who announced this week that 70 gas stations in Guanajuato will import gasoline from Texas, also demanded “the prompt supply of our gas stations” by Pemex.

Sinhue and the interior secretary urged Congress to approve a proposal to make fuel theft a serious crime so that thieves who are arrested are not released on bail.

“. . . I call on all forces in the federal Congress and as it’s a constitutional change, the state congresses, to help us so that fuel theft [is classified as] a serious crime and we don’t have a revolving door in prisons and we can prosecute these crimes that have been a cancer, a scourge for our country,” Sánchez Cordero said.

Federal authorities have already been touting the success of the anti-fuel theft strategy. President López Obrador said billions of pesos have been saved and the army general in charge of the deployment to protect Mexico’s pipelines asserted that the quantity of fuel stolen on a daily basis has fallen from 80,000 barrels in November to 2,500 this month.

However, motorists and business owners in several states have been frustrated by the gasoline shortages the strategy has caused and it is unclear how much longer they must wait for the situation to return to normal.

But greater supplies of gasoline are now beginning to flow into parts of the country affected by the shortages, which in some cases have entered a third week.

Sinhue said yesterday that a rail tanker carrying 9.7 million liters of gasoline for 42 Mobil stations had arrived in Guanajuato without incident and another is expected next week.

“[Supply] is slowly going up but we hope that it continues to increase because three days ago there were 80 gas stations open out of 603 and currently there are 125 open,” he said.

The governor said that state authorities have offered police escorts to fuel transport operators to avoid robberies of their vehicles and cargo.

“In Guanajuato, one [tanker] was stolen but we’ve now told business owners to notify us when they go out because if they don’t, we don’t know what time the tanker trucks are traveling . . .” Sinhue said.

Gas stations in Mexico City are receiving more fuel this week than last week, the newspaper El Financiero determined via a tour of the capital.

Last week, gas stations were only supplied by a 20,000-liter tanker once every day or day and a half, but since Monday deliveries have increased to two or three times a day, according to employees at gas stations visited by the newspaper.

Out of 10 stations visited, eight were operating normally while two remained closed. In six stations, wait times didn’t exceed 10 minutes while in the two other stations that were open, longer lines were observed.

A report by the newspaper El Universal also said that operations at gas stations in the central Cuauhtémoc borough had begun to normalize.

A motorist in the Juárez neighborhood said that the lines at gas stations had shrunk considerably compared to last week.

“Last week, they were very long, up to two kilometers. It took me about an hour to fill up my tank but now it’s empty again and as you see there are just three cars in front of me,” he said.

México state Governor Alfredo del Mazo Maza said today that the Tuxpan-Azcapotzalco pipeline, which was sabotaged at least five times in less than a week, was back in action and would help mitigate gasolines shortages in the state.

He also said that the pipeline between Tula, Hidalgo, and Toluca would reopen soon.

To mitigate fuel shortages in the north of the country, López Obrador announced today that tanker trucks would supply gas stations with gasoline from the United States.

The objective of the move, the president said, was to relieve pressure on the oil refinery in Cadereyta, Nuevo León, so that it can supply more fuel to states in the south of the country.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Financiero (sp), El Universal (sp) 

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