Entrepreneurs denounce spike in gas theft in Mexico

08/03/2021

Gas theft and its consequences are growing by leaps and bounds in Mexico, after approximately 60% of the clandestine intakes discovered over the last 20 years were found in the last three years. In 2018 there were 12,581 clandestine intakes, in 2019 there were 13,136 and in 2020 they rose to more than 23,000 clandestine intakes.

The theft of liquefied petroleum gas cost Mexico last year more than 30 billion pesos (about $1.41 billion). Armed groups are taking over the (distribution) routes and are imposing conditions that do not benefit the end consumer and put society at risk. The thefts begin in Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) gas pipelines and in storage and distribution centers of the public oil company "due to corruption issues", said Juan, the fictitious name of the person in charge of security in a gas distribution company.

The problem is concentrated in the central states of Mexico, mainly in Veracruz, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Querétaro, Mexico City, Mexico State, and Guanajuato. In the states where fuel theft takes place, the main impacts on the companies are the theft of units and equipment used to distribute the gas. Pipes (tanker trucks) and portable gas tanks are stolen.

The "key figure" for getting this stolen fuel to homes and businesses is the commission agent, i.e. people who control a number of trucks and routes and the amount of gas sold on them. Normally they would buy from legally established companies, but clandestine gas can be cheaper and the commission agents, who do not have to be legally established, take advantage of the opportunity to make money. 

Furthermore, there are "shock groups" that extort gas distributors in exchange for protection in their area. Once organized crime takes control of a region, they impose their conditions on all links in the supply chain, including the customer.

By Mexicanist