Five security officers in the employment of Mexico’s state oil company Pemex were caught siphoning fuel from a pipeline in the state of Veracruz as the country struggles to contain pipeline theft that is burgeoning out of control.
Police responding to an emergency call found the five security personnel while they were filling a 1,500-liter tank. The security officers reportedly threatened the police at gunpoint and attempted to pull jurisdiction.
The debacle ended when state police reinforcement were called in and arrested the Pemex security officers for carrying restricted weapons without permits.
Pemex has been tireless in its efforts to prevent theft from its pipelines, which transport crude and fuels across Mexico; however, these efforts have not so far failed to put an end to illegal siphoning. Last year alone, fuel thefts reached as much as 6.9 million barrels, costing Pemex 10.9 billion pesos (US$580 million). The amount was a 51-percent increase on the size of oil and fuel thefts in 2014.
Pemex has been filing thousands of complaints with the Attorney General’s office about illegal pipeline taps. Last year, these totaled 5,574, versus 3,674 in 2014. The most thefts were committed in the state of Guanajuato, in central Mexico, with 968 instances of illegal siphoning, a 127-percent rise on 2014. In other places in the Mexican Bajio region (also in central Mexico) 926 thefts were reported, up 32 percent on 2014.
Fuel thefts are among the many woes of Pemex. The state-owned company has been fighting the effects not just of oil low prices but also budget cuts and rising debt.
Early this year, the government delivered another blow to Pemex by allowing other companies to import liquefied petroleum gases (LPG) – propane and butane. This affected Pemex’s LPG import revenues, as the imports themselves fell by 28 percent in the first half of the year to 12.6 million barrels. Overall, Mexican LPG imports, however, jumped by 43 percent to 25 million barrels.