In Mexico, an Epidemic of Fuel Thefts Becomes a Crisis

4/26/2017 The New York Times

Flickr/Terry Chapman

SAN SALVADOR HUIXCOLOTLA, Mexico — Some of the day’s first customers pull into the produce market at dawn, but not with fruit and vegetables on their minds. They’re looking for cheap, stolen gasoline.

On the edge of the market, dozens of vendors have set up shop, with stacks of five-gallon containers full of stolen fuel and rubber hoses to siphon it.

“How much, cousin?” the vendors holler as they swarm the hundreds of motorists who drive through every day. The price is less than half what customers would pay at nearby gas stations.

The brisk, open gas trade is one of the more obvious manifestations of Mexico’s national fuel-theft epidemic. Thieves are now siphoning gasoline and diesel fuel at record-high rates from the system — often by drilling taps into pipelines under cover of darkness — and are selling it on the black market around Mexico and perhaps even in the United States and Central America.

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Mexico’s Pemex will look to repeat new hedging program

4/26/2017 Reuters

Pemex LogoMexican state-owned oil company Pemex will consider repeating a recently instituted hedging program in future years, as it looks to firm up its balance sheet and avoid the need for surprise budget cuts, a top executive said late on Tuesday.

Petroleos Mexicanos [PEMX.UL], as the company is officially known, reported on Tuesday that it has hedged its output through December, the first time it has done so in 11 years, as an insurance policy against volatile oil prices.

The oil hedging program, which will run from May to December and guarantees a price of $42 per barrel for up to 409,000 barrels per day, will cost the company $133.5 million.

“It’s important to give the market certainty that faced with drops in oil prices Petroleos Mexicanos won’t have to cut its budget,” Chief Financial Officer Juan Pablo Newman told Reuters in an interview.

Last year, Pemex implemented about 100 billion pesos ($5.8 billion) in spending cuts, following cuts of some 62 billion pesos in 2015 due to falling crude prices.

The new Pemex hedge is separate from a much larger oil price hedge undertaken by the finance ministry.

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Lumber, Nafta and Mexico Signal Long Canada-U.S. Trade Spat

4/26/2017 Bloomberg Politics

Flicker/Ian Britton

A long road remains after Donald Trump fired the starting pistol in yet another softwood lumber fight, one of several trade disputes the U.S. and Canada are set to spend years sorting out.

The U.S. president announced countervailing duties of up to 24 percent on softwood lumber from Canada on Monday, drawing rebuke and a threat of legal action from the northern neighbor. While it could have been worse — Canadian lumber shares surged Tuesday because the tariffs turned out to be less severe than some expected — it won’t be quick. The last softwood spat ran from 2001 to 2006.

“This isn’t an easy fix,” Derek Nighbor, chief executive officer of the Forest Products Association of Canada, told Bloomberg TV Canada Tuesday. He said Canada can’t appeal duties until they’re finalized early next year. In the meantime, the duties could mean an extra C$500,000 ($370,000) or more a month for a single Canadian mill. “These are very significant costs, and businesses are going to have to figure out: How do you manage through this? How do you cash-flow through this?”

Among the next steps the U.S. may take are anti-dumping duties, with a decision due June 23, and finalized duties expected by January of 2018.

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Radioactive material stolen in Mexico, search on: officials

4/24/2017 Reuters

HAZMAT_Class_7_RadioactiveAn unknown amount of stolen radioactive material has prompted an alert in nine Mexican states, the head of national emergency services said on Monday.

The alert and search for the stolen material covers the states of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacan San Luis Potosi, Durango and Zacatecas, according to a post on Luis Felipe Puente’s Twitter account.

Puente encouraged people with information about the stolen material to report it but added: “don’t open it.”

Stolen or lost radioactive material has on several occasions been reported in Mexico, most recently early last year when a container of radioactive substance used for industrial X-rays, a method of non-destructive testing, was taken along with a car.

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Exclusive: Mexico plans second deepwater oil tie-up in Maximino, Nobilis areas – sources

4/20/2017 Reuters

energy -drilling_platform_in_seaMexican state-run oil company Pemex plans a second deepwater “farm-out” joint venture in the Maximino and Nobilis areas in the Gulf of Mexico where super light crude has been found near the U.S. border, two people familiar with the matter said.

Speaking this week, the people said Pemex [PEMX.UL] would likely seek approval in June from the National Hydrocarbons Commission, or CNH, the industry regulator, to launch a tender for partners with the aim of announcing a winner in December.

“Maximino-Nobilis may be assigned in December and we hope the CNH will announce it in June,” said one of the sources. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are not yet public.

A Pemex spokesman said the firm was looking for a partner to develop Maximino and Nobilis, and that the proposal would be submitted for approval by the board in the next few days. The CNH would then need to decide on the time frame, he added.

The farm-outs are a central pillar of the government’s efforts to lure investment to Mexico since Congress opened up the country’s long-closed oil and gas industry to private investment in a legislative drive between 2013 and 2014.

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Mexico oil boss at center of Citi loan fraud exits jail -source

4/17/2017 Reuters

energy - oil barrelsThe former chief executive of a Mexican oil services company arrested over a loan scandal that inflicted hefty losses on Citigroup Inc’s local Banamex unit was released from prison on Thursday, an official in the city government said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official confirmed media reports that Amado Yanez, who was CEO of the Oceanografia firm when the scandal over bogus loans broke in 2014, left the prison in Mexico City early on Thursday.

Mexican media said that a Mexico City judge had ordered Yanez’s release after payment of bail of 7.5 million pesos ($404,000), and that the investigation against him would continue. The city official could not confirm this detail.

A federal judicial source said media reports about the release of Yanez, which occurred at the start of a four-day holiday weekend, appeared correct, but that no notification had been submitted by the court.

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Bus crash with fuel tanker in Mexico kills at least 24

4/13/2017 Reuters

At least 24 people were killed and nine were injured on Thursday in a head-on collision in southwestern Mexico between a bus and a fuel tanker truck which exploded, seriously burning some of the victims, authorities said.

Rescue workers were still clearing the site, said an official for federal police in Petacalco just inside Guerrero state where it borders neighboring Michoacan.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some of the victims were severely burned after the two vehicles smashed into each other near the Pacific coast.

The state government of Guerrero said in a statement that nine people were injured in addition to the 24 dead.

Police said the bus was traveling to the coast when it hit the tanker, which had left the port of Lazaro Cardenas.

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