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Fuel thieves load up. Fuel thieves load up.

As government spending soared to combat fuel theft so did the crime

Previous government spent almost 5 billion pesos, while at the same time new records were being broken for pipeline taps

The federal government under former president Enrique Peña Nieto spent almost 5 billion pesos to combat fuel theft during its six-year term only to see the incidence of the crime soar, statistics show.

Between December 1, 2012, the date Peña Nieto took office, and July 2018, the state oil company spent 4.91 billion pesos (US $253.6 million at today’s exchange rate) on security for its facilities and infrastructure – which includes thousands of kilometers of pipelines that are frequently tapped by fuel thieves – and on training and weapons for its employees.

According to information publicly disclosed by Pemex, security spending during the period was divided into four areas: the strengthening of Pemex’s operational capacities; operational expenses related to investment projects and other initiatives; construction of security training facilities at the old 18 de Marzo refinery; and the acquisition of weapons for members of the company’s strategic protection unit.

Spending in the first area was highest – just over 2.5 billion pesos in the almost six-year period.

Resources were allocated to the creation of a fuel theft reporting center, to the updating of geolocation, surveillance and communication technology, to the development of an app to makes it quicker and easier for security agents to report illegal pipeline taps and to the hiring of 365 pickup trucks and three motorcycles to carry out patrols.

Expenditure in the second area was not far behind the first at just under 2.2 billion pesos.

Just over 175 million pesos went to the creation of security training spaces at the old 18 de Marzo refinery in Mexico City while 17.7 million pesos was spent on weapons.

As part of the government’s anti-fuel theft strategy, Pemex also entered into agreements with the Secretariats of National Defense and the Navy, which allowed members of the military to guard the nation’s fuel pipelines.

Among the results obtained was the closure in 2017 of 70 gas stations which were found to be selling stolen fuel. The same year, almost 15 million liters of stolen fuel, known colloquially as huachicol, was recovered.

Between 2013 and July 2018, 40 Pemex employees found to be linked to fuel theft were dismissed and almost 1,600 fuel thieves were arrested.

Yet new records for the number of illegal taps detected in monthly, quarterly and annual periods were frequently set during the government’s time in office, costing Pemex tens of billions of pesos per year.

In 2014, Peña Nieto’s second full year in office, a total of 3,635 illegal taps were detected. But in the first 10 months of last year, the figure was 12,581, a 45% increase on the same period of 2017.

If the number of new perforations detected in November and December (which have not yet been released) remain steady, there will have been 15,097 illegal taps in 2018, a whopping 315% increase on 2014.

Source: El Economista (sp) 

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