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One of the Israeli-built trucks for pipeline surveillance. One of the Israeli-built trucks for pipeline surveillance.

Pemex arms itself with surveillance gear

Israeli-built equipment watching out for pipeline thieves in Puebla

Pemex has new armament to aid its combat against petroleum thefts from its pipelines in the state of Puebla, which amount to close to 2.4 million liters per day: the latest in surveillance equipment of Israeli manufacture.

A popular target for thieves is the principal source of fuel — diesel and magna and premium gasolines — for central Mexico, the 600-kilometer-long Minatitlán-Mexico City pipeline.

It is monitored by 13 military operations bases, each manned by some 30 personnel, but the thieves are quick, the fuel runs quickly and soldiers can’t get to the pipeline taps soon enough.

The worst section for theft is the 100-kilometer stretch that crosses the Puebla municipalities of Quimixtlán, Tepeaca, Tecamachalco, Acatzingo and Palmar de Bravo.

The response time of military personnel is between five and 15 minutes after an illegal pipeline tap is detected, but the huachicoleros, as gasoline thieves are known, can easily extract an average of 1,000 liters per minute. Given 10 minutes, they can easily fill a 10,000-liter tanker truck, or pipa.

And by the time security forces arrive at the site of the tap, the huachicoleros have already fled.

The new equipment is expected to make surveillance of the pipeline more effective and expeditious. It consists of two military trucks, one of which is equipped with cameras with a range of 24 kilometers and several monitors with which to observe the movements of thieves.

Also part of the package are two technological systems known as Leak Lab and AVL that use several optic sensors, long-range radar and a GPS system with which to track the routes followed by the robbers.

The second truck receives signals from a military helicopter by day and from drones by night.

Pipeline thefts are expected to increase due to this week’s hefty increase in fuel prices, as demand for cheaper black-market gas grows. Organized crime is believed to play a big role in the thefts due to the profits that can be made.

The market ranges from roadside gasoline sales by the gallon or tanker truckloads to gas stations prepared to buy black-market fuel.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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