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Security forces seize stolen fuel in Hidalgo earlier this year. Security forces seize stolen fuel in Hidalgo earlier this year.

Petroleum theft continues to plague Pemex as pipelines remain a target

The number of illegal taps began rising in September

Petroleum theft is on the rise after remaining below 2019 levels for most of the year.

There were 1,103 illegal taps on Pemex pipelines in September and 1,077 in October, according to information on the government’s online transparency platform.

In September, thieves stole 93 full shipments of fuel that were injected into the pipeline network and siphoned off another 106 in October.

On September 5, for example, Pemex injected more than 44,000 barrels of diesel into a pipeline that runs from Tuxpan, Veracruz, to Azcapotzalco, Mexico City. None of the shipment reached its final destination because fuel thieves tapped the pipeline and extracted the diesel somewhere along the way.

Among the shipments stolen in October was one of more than 60,000 barrels of diesel injected into a pipeline in Cadereyta, Nuevo León.

In the first 12 days of November thieves got away with 41 shipments of fuel including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

In that 12-day period, the newspaper El Universal reported, Pemex injected 423 shipments of fuel into the pipeline system and 177 of them – 41.8% of the total – were either partially or completely stolen.

Pipelines running through the states of Veracruz, Durango, Baja California, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Sonora, Puebla, México state and Yucatán are among those that are frequently targeted by fuel thieves, some of whom work for drug cartels that have diversified into the lucrative racket.

Pemex data shows that 8,919 illegal pipeline taps were detected between January 1 and November 24. In the first month of year there were 886 illegal taps, a 43% decline compared to January 2019.

The number of monthly taps remained below 2019 levels until September while the figure in October – 1,077 – was up 22% compared to the same month last year.

The data shows that fuel theft has continued at high levels throughout the first two years of the federal government although President López Obrador has claimed that the problem, which has cost Pemex billions of pesos, has been “practically eliminated.”

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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