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Well, that sucks!

15 August 2009

Maggie’s Madness is more the angry sort of mad than the loco sort.  Or maybe anger at the loco-ness of it all:

… yesterday PEMEX issued a statement through Mexico City which was posted on Frontera’s national news headlines last night and then El Mex picked the statement up this morning. What PEMEX said is that there were three new outlets syphoning fuel from underground pipelines in Baja California which they closed with the assistance of the Federal authorities and the Mexican Army. They stated that these three outlets were in ROSARITO BEACH and MEXICALI. Yet, two days ago we were told the fuel syphoning incident in Tijuana at K29 on the Tijuana-Tecate highway was the first to be reported in Baja California. No other specific information was given, and we are to assume that these three do not include the one shut down a couple of days ago in TIJUANA. So, that makes four in this northern area.

BTW, the fuel in Baja California is imported from the US, subsidies are put on this fuel by the Mexican government to keep the price lower here in Baja. Jeez, I wonder what happened at those other three sites PEMEX noted?

Given the better-ballyhooed thefts from Pemex lines in the east — which led to some fines and criminal charges in the United States (which, involving Texas oil men are de facto going to  involve Bush family associates) the Baja thefts seem to be overlooked.

Still, that’s a lot of Mexican oil going north that isn’t accounted for.  According to Reuters (and others), “Pemex found nearly 400 illegal connections to its pipelines last year and estimated its losses at $700 million.”  I don’t know (and don’t know where to look) for estimates on oil thefts from other national pipeline networks.  The numbers are alarming, but how do they stack up to thefts from pipelines in Nigeria, or Russia or Ecuador… or Canada for that matter?  I suspect PEMEX’s losses are much higher than others — but I wouldn’t directly attribute the losses to the super-villain Zetas.

As I’ve said before, I think “Zeta” is just a generic term now for organized gangsters, and there is some cooperation between criminals — and in this case, officials.   But narco-gangsters are only indirectly responsible.

One big difference with most other countries is that “National Security” in Mexico includes natural resource protection — waterways, forests and oil fields among them.  Where I live, the Navy is out patrolling for illegal fishing boats, and elsewhere watching the ports and oil platforms.  As they should.

pemex-crookThe attempt to denationalize PEMEX was partially successful.  The company was broken up into different operational areas, with different management — and some services were turned over to outside contractors.   The oil platforms, the refineries, ports, chemical plants are all secured, but no one, it seems, has overall responsibility for pipeline security.  Add the lack of any real regulations for private security firms and “Houston, we have an opportunity”.  Pipeline security SHOULD be the Army’s job.

Unfortunately, the Army — which is quite small — has been diverted into one specific activity (the “drug war”) to the extent that it isn’t in a position to perform its traditional tasks.  Lumber lefts, as well as oil thefts, are on a massive scale and well-organized operations.  The Army just doesn’t have the manpower, or the resources, to stop the looting, nor — given the Calderon Administration’s fixation on the narcotics exporters — does it appear that there will be more focus on these problems unless there are massive scandals like the PEMEX thefts.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Bear Rodgers permalink
    16 August 2009 9:51 am

    Pemex itself know when it is running short on a particular system and should immediately undertake to locate the loss source. They should then notify the proper authority, be it military or otherwise. Unfortunately these taps are all to frequently done by insiders or with insider information. I spent 32 years working on pipeline systems and product delivery and somebody was constantly trying to beat the system, even employees at the delivery sites taking it out by the tanker load. No one site lasted very long or they would have our ass.

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