Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Pemex to seal 175 km of pipelines in concrete to thwart thieves

Pemex will cover 175 kilometers of pipelines with concrete this year as part of the strategy to reduce illegal taps by fuel thieves.

According to a government plan seen by the newspaper El Universal, the state oil company will seal 149 kilometers of gasoline, diesel and natural gas pipelines identified as being particularly susceptible to theft as well as an additional 26.

Stretches of nine different pipelines will get concrete protection: 36 kilometers of the Tuxpan-Tula line will be covered; 35 kilometers of the Cactus-Guadalajara LPG line; 25 kilometers of the Tuxpan-Azcapotzalco line; 23 kilometers of Tula-Salamanca; 20 kilometers of Madero-Cadereyta; 10 kilometers on each of the Salamanca-Morelia, Salamanca-León and Salamanca-Guadalajara lines; and six kilometers of the Tula-Azcapotzalco line.

The plan will increase the concrete reinforcement of pipelines from the existing 51.5 kilometers to 226.5 kilometers.

The federal government will also seek to combat fuel theft by regulating or even banning the sale of valves that are commonly used to steal fuel.

The pipelines are protected with a concrete mattress placed above.
The pipelines are protected with a concrete mattress placed above.

In addition, it will take steps to increase the operational capacity of a control center in Pemex’s Mexico City headquarters where engineers from the army and navy monitor pipeline pressure in order to detect illegal taps. The goal is for authorities to be able to respond immediately to taps by huachicoleros, as fuel thieves are known colloquially.

President López Obrador has made combating fuel theft a priority for his administration and closed several major pipelines soon after he took office in December 2018 to thwart thieves’ attempts to tap them, a strategy that caused widespread gasoline shortages.

The government also deployed military personnel to guard both pipelines and Pemex facilities. A deployment of 5,300 members of the navy, army and National Guard is expected this year, a reduction of 3,300 compared to January last year when 50 military personnel were guarding every 20 kilometers of pipeline.

Military aircraft will assist the efforts to stop fuel theft, a crime that has cost Pemex billions of pesos annually in recent years but which López Obrador claims has been greatly reduced during his administration.

According to the government plan seen by El Universal, there were 13,016 illegal taps on pipelines in 2019, a reduction of 12.6% compared to 2018.

The López Obrador administration this year aims to further reduce fuel theft by as much as 2,500 barrels per day as well as install theft alert systems on 1,300 kilometers of pipeline, the plan said.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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