MEXICO CITY — When it comes to oil, Mexico is a major business partner to the U.S., and American investors are even looking into Mexico’s expanding energy market. But recent violent clashes in Mexico’s black-market oil could affect those investments.
Four Mexican soldiers and six gasoline thieves were killed Thursday in the Mexican state of Puebla after a gunfight at an illegal roadblock.
The thief gangs are known as “chupa-ductos” or “duct suckers.” Authorities say they steal gas from federal fuel pipelines and sell it for cheaper prices in the black market.
The oil black market is not new, but violent confrontations have increased.
“So we have this massive illegal fuels market that has been growing for at least 15 years and maybe we are getting the first signs that the government is prepared to do something about it and to control what is a major loss of revenue for the government in taxes,” said David Shields, an energy industry analyst based in Mexico City.
Shields says that gas theft in Mexico doesn’t affect American gas providers but
generates concerns among oil corporations that invest inside the country.
“For companies that sell gasoline to Mexico there is no great problem, the problem is for companies thinking of investing inside Mexico, and they are concerned about crime, about insecurity and about the problems of logisitics in Mexico, how can gasoline be safely transported from one place to another,” Shields explained.