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San Miguel Service Stations Running Out of Gasoline

The Federal strategy to combat fuel theft has reduced supplies in Guanajuato and five other states.

By Karla Ortiz

As we went to press, the state of Guanajuato and some other parts of the Bajío have been suffering a fuel shortage that has completely depleted several gas stations in San Miguel de Allende of gasoline and caused long lines of cars at the ones who still have any.

A statement released by the Subdirectorate of Communication and Marketing of Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) said that the supply of gasoline will return to normal as soon as possible and that in the states of México, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato, and Querétaro, the company has increased distribution operations up to 20 percent.

Also in the statement, officials emphasized that they are not facing product shortages or price speculation. The problem has arisen due to a federal government plan to combat fuel theft (known in Spanish as huachicol), which has changed the logistics of delivery to service stations.

However, on January 7, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in his morning press conference, admitted that there is a fuel shortage problem. But he promised that there is enough fuel in the country and that the shortage in some parts of the country is because of measures they are taking with regards to distribution in some pipelines: “I can tell people, all Mexicans, that we have enough gasoline, there is no shortage problem. What we are taking care of is the distribution, not opening the pipelines so that there is no siphoning. We are opening the pipelines carefully, and ‘carefully’ means that there is surveillance by specialized personnel.”

In another press conference, on Tuesday, January 8, López Obrador updated: “Yesterday we were about to solve the problem in CDMX, and there was an accident with the pipeline that goes from Tuxpan to Azcapotzalco. This is a clandestine leak that needs repair and care. The shortage in the CDMX already existed and worsened after this leak,” he explained. He also mentioned that as it is considered prudent, the Pemex pipelines will be opened, and urged the Mexican community to act with tranquility and if it is not necessary to refill gasoline, do not do so.

On the other hand John Rodríguez, operational manager of Shell Queretaro believes that the shortage could continue for at least two more weeks: “The panic and shortage in the State of México, made people go to refuel the CDMX and this caused the end of gasoline. The Salamanca-León pipeline was never opened, AMLO never authorized it. The people from Pemex who spoke with government leaders only gave an estimated date, but for the moment the 6 refineries that exist throughout México are closed and all distribution is taking place via land.

The Salamanca-León pipeline will supply SMA

A refinery in Tula, Hidalgo that normally supplies Querétaro and San Miguel, is one of the affected pipelines, and has shut down as part of the government’s plan, so Pemex Querétaro has had to serve the gas stations in Querétaro and San Miguel de Allende, which has meant rerouting their pipelines to intake fuel in San José Iturbide, where they are receiving imported product by rail. Transporting fuel by rail takes days to arrive, and the fuel only comes in amounts of 20,000 liters. This amount is being depleted in less than four hours, due to already long lines and panicked consumers hoarding gas.

Guanajuato Gov Diego Sinhue’s social networks are saying that the Salamanca-León pipeline will remain completely open and working at 100 percent. This partly benefits San Miguel gas stations since the ones in the state of Guanajuato that are currently being supplied by Pemex Querétaro will go back to being supplied by Pemex Salamanca, which includes some San Miguel gas stations.

In the meantime, some San Miguel gas stations have taken the initiative to find their own fuel supplies.

Other gas stations are having fewer problems because they get their gas from the multinational oil company Mobil—which moved into the area at the beginning of the year and imports its gas from unaffected US pipelines.

Panic causing gas hoarding

Antonieta Jiménez, supervisor of Gasolineras Ruta, is one of the gas companies that are currently seeking their own fuel supplies to deal with the shortage. She told Atención: “Panic purchases have caused the shortage problem to become chaotic. People believe that the gasoline is running out and that the problem is going to continue like this. My recommendation would be that people carry what they need, to not leave others without fuel, since Pemex has not stopped supplying the city; it has given us little, but it has not left us with nothing. It is also important to be aware that the gas station employees are there to serve us, because in the chaos, they have been attacked. At Ruta stations, we will begin to import gasoline from McAllen, Texas, and with this, we hope to end the shortage problem—at least in our stations.”


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