HomeNewsBriefWill Pemex's Plan to Fight Mexico Oil Thieves Work?
BRIEF

Will Pemex's Plan to Fight Mexico Oil Thieves Work?

MEXICO / 18 FEB 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Mexico’s state oil company Pemex has announced it will cease transporting fully refined gasoline and diesel fuel through its pipelines, a novel approach intended to combat pervasive oil theft, but nevertheless raises the question of its long-term effectiveness.

Pemex said it will begin sending “unfinished” fuel through its more than 14,000 km of Mexican pipeline. The fuel will require a final mixing before being suitable for use in motor vehicles and industrial processes, reported El Universal.

With the move, Pemex hopes to reduce fuel theft by criminal groups and deter customers from buying stolen gasoline.

According to CBC News, Pemex documented 3,674 illegal taps in its pipelines in 2014 -- a 70 percent increase over 2013. In just the first nine months of 2014, the company said it lost an estimated $1.15 billion to oil theft.

Eight of every 10 liters of gasoline transported in Mexico is moved via pipeline – a value of over $28.5 billion, reported El Universal.

Final mixing will now take place in the company’s 77 storage and distribution terminals located throughout the country, before fuel is sent out for final sale and consumption.

The company did not specify what steps of the refining process would be left unfinished, but advised customers to ensure they buy fuel from authorized gas stations and dealers to avoid potentially damaging their vehicle engines, reported CBC News. 

The change will take effect nationwide in two months.

InSight Crime Analysis

With this decision, Pemex demonstrates that it is thinking creatively about how to mitigate its losses to oil theft -- an activity that has become a massive source of revenue for Mexican organized crime and is a major threat to the country’s oil industry.

In theory, this move will make it more difficult for criminals to benefit from tapping Pemex pipelines. But it's also possible that criminal organizations will move into the business of refining the fuel themselves. Groups like the Zetas have already proven themselves capable of creating sophisticated distribution networks for stolen oil. 

It's also possible that criminal groups may simply begin targeting the storage centers where final refining will now take place, either by corrupting employees at these facilities or by forecfully interdicitng shipments of fully refined fuel.  

Overall, Pemex’s decision is a striking example of a company having to significantly adapt its practices due to criminal activity. The long-term benefits of this manuever, however, remain in doubt.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CYBERCRIME / 7 DEC 2016

The cyber theft of personal and business data in Mexico is reportedly increasing, illustrating the limited power that government institutions…

GULF CARTEL / 31 AUG 2012

In what is shaping out to be one of the most prominent investigations ever into a Mexican politician’s alleged links…

MEXICO / 21 SEP 2012

The government has sent a force of 1,000 soldiers and federal police to patrol a suburb of Mexico City in response…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…