Image credits: PEMEX
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News Article

Fuel Theft On The Rise

By Pedro Alcalá | Tue, 06/29/2021 - 17:31

The latest reports released by PEMEX demonstrate a concerning increase in fuel theft incidents over the last quarter. 

Reported illegal taps on PEMEX ducts increased 9.5 percent in 1Q21when compared to 1Q20. The majority of these taps, 1563 in total, have been found in Hidalgo, while 894 have been found in Puebla and 477 in the State of Mexico. Other states with large numbers in this column include Tlaxcala and Guanajuato. These five states account for 83.9 percent of all illegal taps found this year so far; they also occupied the top spots in 2020. In fact, just Hidalgo’s increase in illegal taps from 2020 to 2021 climbed to 31.6 percent. In Puebla, this same increase was 41.4 percent. Overall, between January and April of 2021, a total of 3759 illegal taps of PEMEX ducts have been discovered by the NOC, while the number for these same months in 2020 was 3430. 

These figures are not gathered by the NOC alone; military authorities from SEDENA, FGR and the National Guard participate in these efforts. Part of the reason for this, besides the national priority that hydrocarbon infrastructure represents, is that fuel theft is an economic activity controlled by larger criminal syndicates who are already the subject of investigations led by these law enforcement entities. According to a report from SEDENA, between January 27th and February 22nd of 2021, 590000 liters of hydrocarbons were recovered in Hidalgo alone (a barrel is equivalent to roughly 158 liters). Despite these recoveries, PEMEX representatives claim, in an exclusive statement to El Economista, that an average of 4700b/d were lost in the first 14 days of June 2021, the highest average of the year so far when compared to the rest of the months.   

These increases are reflected in the surge of news and local media reports regarding arrests and events in this category during June 2021. For example, PEMEX’s figures are mostly focused on onshore theft, but El Universal just released a report on illegal taps on offshore oil and gas infrastructure in Mexico. Infobae reported in June 2021 on  the discovery of two illegal taps in Coahuila, which resulted in the recovery of 2000 liters of diesel by the National Guard, and the discovery of an illegal tap in CDMX, in the Azcapotzalco burrough. Codigo San Luis reported on the discovery of 64000 liters of stolen fuel in San Luis Potosi, and Milenio reported on the conviction of two fuel thiefs in the State of Mexico who were also involved in kidnappings to 100 years of jail time.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
El Economista, Milenio, Código San Luis, El Universal, Infobae
Photo by:   PEMEX
Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Journalist and Industry Analyst