Fourteen percent of liquid petroleum gas (LP) distributed in Mexico in 2020 was sold by criminal gangs in Mexico City and the state of México, according to the Mexican gas association (Amexgas).
Amexgas estimates 23,000 robberies from the pipelines of the state oil company Pemex occurred last year, amounting to 100,000 tonnes of gas per month.
The gangs steal gas trucks to move the extracted gas, a small part of which is sold in the same area, with the far larger proportion transported to the state of México and Mexico City.
The gangs block the distribution of established gas companies and take over by charging for the right of access. They also sell the black market gas far below market price through traditional distribution channels, and are attempting to take control of more pipelines.
The thefts are concentrated in 10 states — Mexico City, the state of México, Puebla, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Jalisco and Tamaulipas, accounting for up to 25% of the product sold.
“There are confrontations between groups that are escalating, on top of that other groups are being created which defend smaller territories and are starting to charge for right of access,” said one distributor who requested anonymity.
The president of Amexgas, Carlos Serrano, explained that the problem has existed for 20 years, but has intensified sharply.
“If you add together the thefts of the 12 years from 2000 to 2012 they total around 5,000. If there were 23,000 just last year, you can get an idea of the situation that we are experiencing,” he said.
There have been 83,000 thefts since 2000, 60% of which occurred in the past three years.
Serrano explained that the value of what is stolen from Pemex in a single year would be enough to pay off all its debt, and that regular users and companies are affected, like tortillerías, bakeries, restaurants and hotels.
“They are putting the Mexican population at risk because these companies don’t have either the interest or the responsibility to comply with the proper procedures. Additionally, this illegal industry is pushing out formal jobs…they are pushing out companies through gangs, threats and extortion,” he said.
Serrano concluded that criminality creates uncertainty in the energy sector, and shows a lack of respect to the rule of law, which prevents economic and societal growth.
Source: Milenio (sp)