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Pemex drilling platforms have become a target for ocean-going huachicoleros. Pemex drilling platforms have become a target for ocean-going huachicoleros.

Gulf of Mexico pirates new Pemex challenge

They pose as fishermen to board drilling platforms, ships in Bay of Campeche

As if the pipeline thieves known as huachicoleros weren’t enough, Pemex must now contend with pirates.

The state oil company has become a target of ocean-going fuel thieves, according to a report by the Navy Secretariat (Semar), which says that between December 2016 and January 2018, criminals posing as fishermen made at least 21 attempts to board Pemex oil platforms and ships in the Gulf of Mexico.

The newspaper Milenio — which has seen the Semar document — reported that the attacks resulted in thefts from 11 oil platforms and 10 vessels in the Bay of Campeche

Among the loot the pirates got away with were pipework, motors, aluminum, electrical wiring, copper, computer and communication equipment and cash.

Ships docked at the Dos Bocas port in Tabasco were targeted in two attacks on December 26, 2016, while vessels in Ciudad del Carmen, Las Coloradas and Atasta suffered robberies or attempted robberies in 2017.

Deep Driller, Kab-B, Nabors and Balam-TA were among the platforms that came under attack. Pemex personnel were directly threatened in at least two of those raids.

In response, Pemex requested the support of the Navy in December 2017 and it subsequently applied airspace and sea restrictions in the Bay of Campeche that will remain in force until November 30.

On December 7, Navy Secretary Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz explained in the Mexican government’s Official Journal of the Federation that the new controls would restrict navigation within 5,000 meters of oil platforms.

In its report, Semar said that the theft and “acts of vandalism” have caused “significant damage and material losses that put the platforms at risk of suffering major damage and affect the oil production process.”

It also said ongoing insecurity in the Bay of Campeche “could affect the flow of private national and foreign investment,” which were described as “fundamental elements of energy reform.”

Another deterrent to energy investment is the crime of pipeline fuel theft. A recent Pemex report indicated that Mexico’s state-owned pipelines continue to bleed fuel at record levels.

The crime is estimated to cost the federal government more than US $1 billion annually in lost revenue.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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