Mexico City — Plastics processors and their suppliers across Mexico are beginning to feel the effects of a government-contrived gasoline shortage, they say.
In an effort to stop widespread fuel theft by criminal gangs, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador controversially ordered the closure of several key pipelines Dec. 27 and instructed that much of the gasoline be delivered by road.
Although it has 5,000 trucks at its disposal, state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos PEMEX has been unable to keep up with demand. Up to a dozen states have reported severe shortages and one, Sonora, in northwestern Mexico, said it ran out of gasoline altogether early in the week.
Energy Secretary Rocio Nahle told Milenio TV's Azucena Uresti late Jan. 9 that the worst hit states are the heavily industrialized ones of Querétaro, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Aguascalientes.
Alfonso García Díaz, managing director of Bamberger Polymers México, owned by Bamberger Polymers Inc., of Jericho, New York, said the company was coping for the time being but that the government's strategy for fighting the fuel thieves “will affect all business sooner or later.”
“I'm recommending my customers program their deliveries a week before they need the resin just in case,” he told Plastics News. “What a mess!”
Eric Brenn, a sales representative in Mexico for precision mold maker Vasantha Tool Crafts Pvt. Ltd., of Hyderabad, India, said he visited four gasoline stations in Mexico City on Jan. 9 and all of them had run out of fuel.
He was worried, he said, as he was not sure about whether he would be able to visit clients in the coming days. “I'm already alerting India,” he said.
Prominent rotomolder Horacio Lobo y Zertuche said that while operations at Versaplas, the company he helped found in Querétaro, had not been affected to date, “let us hope the situation is resolved quickly as it will begin to impact employees and the staff transportation system.”
Roberto Rodríguez Layun, managing director of blow/injection molder Fischer S.A. de C.V., of Córdoba, in Veracruz state, said, that his company has “not been affected by this shortage since we are in Veracruz,” which is a major oil-producing state. “Our trucks are traveling without problems to deliver to our clients.”
But he added that the demand for Fischer's products is weaker than he expected and the new López Obrador administration's strategy for solving the gasoline theft issue and other problems “is causing uncertainty in the Mexican market.”
Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, coordinator of opposition party Acción Nacional (PAN) in the Mexican Congress's lower house, has accused López Obrador of being inept in his efforts to eradicate gasoline theft, which has caused the last four administrations serious headaches and is reported to have cost the Mexican treasury billions of dollars over the years.
“We welcome the fight against fuel theft,” Romero was quoted as telling Mexico City radio station Radio Fórmula. “But the disaster this has unleashed … is totally inexcusable.”