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A lineup for gas in Michoacán. A lineup for gas in Michoacán.

Michoacán hardest hit in critical gas shortage that has affected four states

'Worst crisis' in past decade follows closure of pipelines due to theft

A gas shortage crisis is affecting four states, drawing the ire of motorists and business owners and causing long lines at service stations that haven’t run out.

Michoacán has been hardest hit: 90% of the gas stations in the state capital, Morelia, have been forced to close.

Business owners and residents first reported a fuel shortage in the municipalities of Morelia, Álvaro Obregón, Charo and Tarímbaro on December 31. At least six other municipalities were also affected by petroleum shortages in the last week of 2018.

The state oil company hasn’t explained the cause of the shortage in Michoacán, while President López Obrador said yesterday that authorities are still investigating the source of the problem.

In a Twitter post on New Year’s Eve directed at Pemex and Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle, federal lawmaker Ana Lilia Guillén Quiroz wrote that “many gas stations are closed in the city of Morelia,” adding that “the few stations that have gasoline are swamped by desperate customers.”

The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) politician, who represents the Michoacán state capital in the lower house of Congress, demanded that the federal government urgently turn its attention to remedying the situation.

A report by the newspaper El Universal yesterday said that tankers have only delivered fuel in in dribs and drabs to some of Michoacán’s 320 gas stations. However, owners of G500 gas stations in the state have reported that Pemex isn’t supplying them with any fuel.

At least eight municipalities in Querétaro, including the state capital, are also facing fuel shortages, which have caused some gas stations to close.

Enrique Arroyo, president of the state’s gas station association, described the situation as the “worst crisis” in the past decade, explaining that it was due to Pemex closing pipelines that run between refineries at Tula, Hidalgo, and Salamanca, Guanajuato, as part of the strategy to combat pipeline theft.

“We’re going through the worst [fuel] shortage crisis we’re had in Querétaro . . . There are now 30 stations that don’t have fuel but the situation is going to get worse tomorrow . . .” he said.

Speaking yesterday, Arroyo added that the number of gas stations forced to close could climb to 50 if fuel wasn’t delivered soon.

Not only Pemex gas stations are affected, he explained, but also those run by BP and Shell, among other companies, because they depend on the state oil company’s infrastructure.

Mobil, which has its own supply networks, has fuel but lacks capacity to make up for the shortfall, Arroyo said.

In México state, an LP gas shortage is affecting residents and businesses in Metepec, a municipality that adjoins the state capital, Toluca.

An employee of the company Vela Gas told the newspaper El Sol de Toluca that Pemex hadn’t supplied it with gas for almost two weeks.

“. . . We continued to work as normal with the reserves we had until the past few days . . . when we had to inform customers that we couldn’t supply them due to the shortage . . .” the unnamed worker said.

A Metepec tortilla shop employee said that he had tried to source LP gas from several companies but they had all run out, adding “if we’re left without gas, we simply can’t work.”

Guanajuato is also facing petroleum and LP gas shortages.

Residents of Uriangato, Moroleón and Yuriria have complained on social media that most gas stations in the municipalities have had no fuel since December 31, forcing them to fill up in other parts of the state.

In León, the state’s largest city, in addition to a lack of gasoline an LP gas shortage has affected residents in recent days, a state gas association chief told the newspaper Milenio.

“It has to be said, yes there is a gas shortage in León and for that reason gas companies are taking a series of measures in order to be able to provide gas in the largest possible area and that means supplying a maximum of [only] 200 or 300 pesos [US $10 to $15 worth of gas] to users,” Merced Ornelas said.

He explained that the shortage was caused mainly by a high demand for LP gas last month, which left companies with scarce quantities with which to supply those who didn’t stock up, but added that since January 1 more tankers have been arriving in the city.

“I imagine that in around 15 days, [normal] service should be restored . . .” Ornelas said.

Source: Reforma (sp), El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp), Diario de Querétaro (sp), El Sol de Toluca (sp), Excelsiór (sp)

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