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  • Pemex logo is seen at the headquarters of state-owned oil giant in Mexico City, Mexico October 13, 2016.

    Pemex logo is seen at the headquarters of state-owned oil giant in Mexico City, Mexico October 13, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 December 2016

State-owned oil company Pemex has asked citizens not to engage in panic buying or to purchase fuel at illegal stations.

Putting gas in your car has become a nightmare for tens of thousands of people as at least nine Mexican states are seeing shortages at the pumps.

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The central-north state of San Luis Potosi is the most affected with authorities reporting that 50 percent of gas stations have run out of fuel. The states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Jalisco, Colima, Aguascalientes, Puebla, Tlaxcala and Chihuahua are also affected.

Pemex has asked citizens not to engage in panic buying or to purchase fuel at illegal stations and highlighted that there will be enough fuel, but many Mexicans remained concerned.

The company did not explain the reasons for the shortage, however, some analysts point to gasoline theft, the partial shutdown of the country’s main refinery and a new billing system by state-owned Pemex.

Mexico imports more than half of the gasoline it needs and this year became a net oil importer from the United States for the first time, as shipments of refined fuel heading south outnumbered shipments of crude to the north.

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In 2014, President Enrique Peña Nieto passed a "sweeping and historic" energy reform bill that opened the door to the privatization of Mexico's vast energy sector and opened Pemex to private gasoline retailers, most of them from the United States.

In recent years, there have been widespread reports of drug cartels putting illegal taps in the fuel pipeline network. Mexico is said to be one of the countries in the world hardest-hit by fuel theft.

Official figures suggest that an average of 20,000 barrels of fuel is stolen each day, meaning the country loses up to US$4 million daily.


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