Repairing pipelines: steady work. Repairing pipelines: steady work.

Pemex pipeline theft continues to soar

Losses in eight months have totaled 13.2 billion pesos

There is no end in sight to petroleum thefts from the network of pipelines operated by Petróleos Mexicanos. In fact, those thefts are up by over 50% so far this year.

The thieves are costing Pemex around 50 million pesos (US $3 million) per day – with more than 3,000 illegal taps into its pipelines between January and August this year – while lawmakers argue over laws to deter the practice.

The state energy firm estimates its total losses this year so far at 13.2 billion pesos (US $792 million), and predicts that this figure could rise to 18.25 billion by the end of the year. These losses include the cost of repairing the pipeline network as well as that of the lost product itself.

The number could be even higher given that the number of attacks is increasing exponentially. During the same period last year there were 2,355 thefts, compared to 3,547 so far in 2015, a year-on-year rise of just over 50%.

A national drive to punish oil pipeline thefts more seriously is stalled in Congress as legislators argue over what legal definition the proposed new offense should take. There are concerns that the law in its present proposed form could affect third parties not directly involved in robberies.

While Congress vacillates, regional governments have been left to take matters into their own hands.

Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico is the state most affected, with 561 robberies carried out on the Pemex network there this year. But Governor Egidio Torre Cantú has repeatedly insisted that his administration is working to stamp out the practice.

Coordination Tamaulipas, a group tasked with preventing robberies, says it has intercepted 1,119 pipeline attacks since the beginning of last year.

“The redoubling of efforts to fight fuel robberies has allowed us to reduce the number of thefts,” said Torre Cantú. “Especially since putting into place the second phase of the security strategy promoted by the national government and administration of Tamaulipas.”

Guanajuato in north-central Mexico is the second worst affected, with 555 pipeline taps this year. The Federal District has suffered the least, with just eight robberies in 2015 to date – but this is still a marked rise year-on-year, with just one robbery reported during the same period in 2014.

Criminal gangs are believed to be behind most of the raids on the Pemex network, and police and military have noted that they are much more frequent in the northern states.

Source: Excélsior (sp)

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