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Pemex installing detection system

Pipeline theft can be detected through pressure changes in the network

Pemex is taking steps to combat the theft of petroleum products from its pipelines, which represents a serious financial loss for the state oil company and a serious environmental threat to the country.

The firm has already invested US $85 million in a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, which detects pressure drops in the lines. It plans to spend another $197 million over the next two years to cover its 35,000-kilometer network of 47 pipelines.

In 2013, Pemex discovered 2,614 illegal pipeline taps throughout the country.

Both individuals and drug cartels are blamed for the thefts, which can have environmental implications if things go wrong as they have at least three times in the past month.

Crude oil spilled into the San Juan River in Nuevo León after a pipeline tap near the Cadereyta refinery, followed by a gasoline spill on to more than four hectares of farmland in Tabasco, also blamed on theft.

The most recent to be reported was in Veracruz, where several kilometers of the Hondo River were contaminated by gasoline after a tap in the Minatitlán-Mexico pipeline.

Clean-up of the San Juan spill was reported two weeks ago to be 90% complete but work was still under way last week. As of Monday, Pemex had recovered about 400,000 liters of gasoline from the Hondo River but there was more yet to be removed.

Sources: CNN (sp)

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