Mexican state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos said it is investing $282 million to expand an automated system to detect the theft of crude and fuel from its more than 35,000-kilometer (21,750-mile) pipeline network.
The so-called SCADA system allows Pemex to immediately detect drops in pressure in the pipeline network and respond rapidly to illegal taps.
The company said fuel theft via the pipeline taps endangers the safety of nearby communities and threatens the environment.
Pemex, which under a recent energy-sector overhaul must face private competition for the first time in decades, said it has already invested $85 million in the system and that the remaining $197 million will be spent over the next two years.
The investment outlay will expand the monitoring system to cover its refinery unit’s 47-pipeline network, Pemex said.
Theft of fuel from Pemex pipelines, known in Mexico as “milking,” is common, with both individuals and gangs involved in the illegal activity.
A total of 2,523 fuel theft cases were registered in 2013, Pemex said.
Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Sonora, Veracruz and Puebla are the states with the most reported cases of fuel theft via illegal pipeline taps.