Mexican drug cartels now stealing oil as it crosses US border

Peak Oil

The news out of the southern part of Arizona doesn’t seem to be losing its ability to shock. Apparently the Cartels that are responsible for most of the drug traffic across the southern US border are now branching out to stealing oil from pipelines coming out of Mexican refineries headed north into the United States. The money from the sale of the oil is used to supplement the arms race between the Cartels and the subsequent escalating violence.

“Last year, thieves stole an average of 8,432 barrels of petroleum products each day, enough to fill 39 tanker trucks. The thieves are leaving a trail of environmental devastation, with broken pipelines poisoning farm fields and leaking into Mexican rivers.

The number of illegal pipeline taps has more than quadrupled since 2004, from 102 then to 462 last year, despite renewed anti-theft efforts by Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil monopoly better known as Pemex. In 2008 alone, authorities arrested 528 people and seized 517 vehicles, Pemex said. Losses that year were $715 million; it has not released an estimate for 2009.

‘It’s a big problem and a continual thorn in their side,’ said David Shields, editor of Energia a Debate, an oil-industry magazine. ‘And the states that have drug trafficking have more problems with their pipelines.’

The thieves use powerful drills and sophisticated valves to prevent any drop in pipeline pressure that might be detected by Pemex. They use hoses to fill fuel trucks with the stolen liquids. Sometimes they even take a more direct approach: hijacking tanker trucks full of fuel.”

Read the full article here.

I suppose this sort of thing is inevitable. And likely to increase. Oil is fungible commodity. If you can steal it, you can sell it with little fear of having it traced back to the source. And given the rising cost of petroleum based energy, it’s likely to be an increasingly attractive target.

It’s like something out of an 80’s apocalyptic movie (Mad Max) isn’t it?

The Oil Drum has been running a series all week entitled “This is what the end of the Oil Age looks like” discussing the ramifications of the Deep Water Horizon leak in the Gulf. They should probably add this news report to their discussion.

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1 Comment

  1. Whenever I hear stories about the Mexican drug cartels and the havoc that has been wreaked on the border I never hear anyone talk about the drug habits of America as a major cause of these problems, only that America is a victim of evil doers.

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