Mex­ico fuel theft cur­tailed, se­cret ‘hose’ found in re­fin­ery -Obrador

Stabroek News - - World News -

MEX­ICO CITY, (Reuters) - Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tues­day a mil­i­tary-as­sisted crack­down had dra­mat­i­cally re­duced fuel theft and un­cov­ered a se­cret pipe that was used to siphon gaso­line out of one of the coun­try’s re­finer­ies.

Such fuel theft has dropped from 787 truck loads per day to 177 since thou­sands of sol­diers were sent to state-oil com­pany Pe­mex’s in­stal­la­tions last month, Lopez Obrador said at a daily news con­fer­ence.

The crack­down on years of mount­ing fuel theft is the left­ist gov­ern­ment’s first ma­jor move against cor­rup­tion and vi­o­lence af­ter tak­ing of­fice on Dec. 1, but risks an­ger­ing con­sumers and hurt­ing the econ­omy.

By clos­ing off pipe­lines and re­finer­ies while it traced leak­ages, the gov­ern­ment has trig­gered short­falls and long lines at gas sta­tions in at least six states, in­clud­ing Gua­na­ju­ato, a ma­jor car-man­u­fac­tur­ing hub in cen­tral Mex­ico.

Crim­i­nal groups and oth­ers who have tapped pipe­lines have long been blamed for bil­lions of dol­lars of losses to pub­lic cof­fers over the past few years, but Lopez Obrador said last month that far more fuel was be­ing stolen di­rectly from Pe­mex in­stal­la­tions by an in­ter­nal net­work of cor­rupt of­fi­cials.

Lopez Obrador said the mil­i­tary had dis­cov­ered a 3-kilo­me­ter (1.9 mile)-long “hose” that was fun­nel­ing fuel out of stor­age tanks at the Sala­manca re­fin­ery in the cen­tral state of Gua­na­ju­ato into a se­cret stor­age area. He ad­mit­ted there were com­plaints about the short­ages, but said they were not wide­spread, and urged an end to “panic” buy­ing and said short­ages were an is­sue of dis­tri­bu­tion, not sup­ply.

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