MOSCOW, September 25 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - The Mexican leadership has been faced with a serious challenge from powerful drug cartels, which are stealing millions of barrels of oil from state-owned pipelines.
"Mexico overcame 75 years of nationalist pride to reform its flagging state-owned oil industry. But as it prepares to develop rich shale fields along the Gulf Coast and attract foreign investors, another challenge awaits: taming the brutal drug cartels that rule the region and are stealing billions of dollars' worth of oil from pipelines," the Associated Press reports.
According to the media source, thieves have stolen about 7.5 million barrels, worth $1.15 billion, via the 2,481 illegal taps they have drilled in the states' pipelines.
It's worth mentioning that Mexico "is highly dependent on oil exports," which were estimated to be worth $42.7 billion in 2013, the Financial Times notes. The media outlet stresses that Mexico obtains approximately a third of its national budget through taxes on its state-owned company Pemex. According to Reuters, in 2012 Pemex paid $69.4 billion in taxes on $69.6 billion in pretax profits, a 99.7 percent tax rate.
Energy reform may provide the state with $10 billion to $15 billion in private investment each year. However, drug cartels evidently pose a substantial threat to Mexico's oil industry growth, making it less attractive to foreign investors.
"More than a fifth of the illegal taps occurred in Tamaulipas, the Gulf state neighboring Texas that is a cornerstone for Mexico's future oil plans. It has Mexico's largest fields of recoverable shale gas, the natural gas extracted by fracturing rock layers, or fracking," the Associated Press notes.
It should be noted that Tamaulipas has long been used by local gangs – the Zetas and the Gulf cartel – as a transshipment route for the transportation of drugs and illegal immigrants from Mexico to the US. Currently the same cartels which operate these rackets are stealing gas and oil in the resource-rich region.
In response, Mexico is sending in soldiers, marines and federal police officers in order to maintain control over the region. However, the task has proved to be difficult, as the pipeline stretches thousands of miles, the media source underscores. Although residents claim that the situation has improved recently, experts note that the region still remains dangerous: elusive armed gangs continue their criminal activity in Tamaulipas.