LP gas theft from pipelines in Puebla has increased significantly since the current federal government took office, according to Pemex data that contrasts sharply with statistics included in President López Obrador’s third annual report.
Presented last week, the president’s report stated that illegal taps on the state oil company’s LP gas lines in Puebla have declined by 40.1% due to a military crackdown on gas theft.
But Pemex data shows that illegal taps have increased every year since López Obrador took office in December 2018.
There were 64 taps on LP gas pipelines in Puebla in 2018, according to data provided by Pemex to the newspaper El Sol de Puebla. The figure rose dramatically to 916 the following year, an increase of 1,331%. Puebla consequently became the worst state in the country for the crime.
The incidence of gas pipeline theft rose again in 2020 with 1,639 illegal taps, a 79% increase compared to 2019.
There was an additional increase in the first six months of 2021 with 846 illegal taps compared to 717 in the same period of last year.
Almost 69% of all LP gas pipeline taps in the first half of the year in Mexico were detected in Puebla, making the state the clear epicenter for the crime.
Pemex data shows that Tepeaca, San Martín Texmelucan, Acatzingo, San Matías Tlalancaleca, Amozoc, Santa Rita Tlahuapan, Acajete, San Salvador El Verde and Palmar de Bravo have the highest incidence of gas theft among Puebla’s 217 municipalities.
The ubiquity of the crime in Puebla fueled a 28% increase in the number of illegal taps detected across Mexico in the first half of 2021. A total of 1,217 perforations were detected, up from 945 between January and June of last year.
Pemex sources told the newspaper Reforma that criminal groups have begun tapping gas lines in areas of Puebla where the crime was previously uncommon. In San Matías Tlalancaleca, a municipality about 50 kilometers northwest of the state capital, 71 illegal taps were detected in the first half of 2021 whereas the highest figure for the same period in recent years was just six.
A Pemex security official who spoke with Reforma accused state oil company employees of colluding with gas thieves.
In order to successfully extract LP gas, “criminals need to know when there is not so much pressure in the pipelines,” he said. “Who’s giving that information to gas traffickers?”