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

MEXICO / 17 JUN 2011

With losses from oil theft growing rapidly, the director of Mexico’s state oil company has called for a new strategy…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 7 JUN 2016

Mexico's Zetas crime syndicate and the government forces tasked with fighting it are both likely guilty of crimes against humanity…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 15 JUN 2020

New court documents allege that a top-level criminal enforcer in Mexico served as an informant prior to his arrest, but…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.