Black gold on the black market

The Economist, 8/4/12

DRUGS, extortion, kidnapping, people-smuggling: Mexico’s organised-crime multinationals have a keen eye for diversification. A growing sideline is stolen oil. In 2011 outlaws made off with 3.35m barrels of fuel belonging to Pemex, the state-run oil monopoly, up from 2.16m in 2010. The thefts are reckoned to deprive the company of more than $1 billion per year. Pemex’s profits pay for a third of the federal government’s budget.

Stealing the fuel, which includes gas condensate and refined oil as well as crude, is not hard. Some goes missing from lorries that are held up in lonely stretches of desert. More is siphoned out of lengthy exposed pipelines.

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