Fuel Theft Levels Remain High in State of Mexico
A fuel leak stemming from a PEMEX pipeline was encountered in Teoloyucan, State of Mexico, presumably caused by huachicoleros, people involved in theft and illicit sale of motor fuel. In 2021, around 244 cases of fuel theft were reported in Teoloyucan. This represents a significant part of the 4,567 incidents reported over the last three years in the state, which remain a bane to PEMEX’s finances.
After a group of neighbors reported the leak, Civil Protection personnel and PEMEX security arrived at the site, as elements of the National Guard worked to repair the damaged pipeline. Authorities reported that there was no risk to the town’s population at present.
The State of Mexico is often exposed to this risk. Five of the NOC’s pipelines run through the state, which motivates issues that persistently bother the state oil company across the country. Around mid-February, four people from Jalisco and Sonora were detained because of their alleged connection to homicides in Teleoyucan and Huehuetoca. The confrontation, which left four dead, involved local gangs trying to take control of huachicoleo activities in the region.
According to a report issued by SEDENA, Acolman, Otumba and Axapuso are the municipalities in the State of Mexico where the most clandestine thefts take place. Together, they represented 2,349 cases of fuel theft over the past three years, which was 51.4 percent of the total 4,567 cases registered in the entire state. By the end of 2021, yearly figures highlighted Acolman as the municipality with the most incidents, totaling 885. Placed second is Otumba with 822 incidents, followed by Axapusco with 642.
Despite the government’s efforts to combat the problem, fuel theft levels remain high around the country and still represent a big financial burden to PEMEX. In 3Q21, PEMEX’s theft-related economic losses amounted to almost MX$200 million (US$9.7 million). Huachicoleo grew 1.93 percent compared to 3Q20, PEMEX reported.
The NOC said that between January and September 2021, it detected 7,994 fuel theft events across the country, up from the 7,842 recorded in 2020. Most of the 2021 cases involve gasoline and diesel, although the remaining 1,712 involved liquefied petroleum (LP) gas. This contributed to PEMEX’s significant financial troubles that resulted in losses 232 percent higher than in 2020, though this was mostly the result of lower mobility and fuel demand brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the increase, La Jornada reported that the losses were still lower than those registered in 2018, the last year of the previous government administration.