Mexicans scramble for gasoline as stations run dry

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexicans are scrambling for gasoline amid long lines at gas stations and widespread shortages prompted by a change in distribution methods aimed at stemming fuel theft.

State oil company Petroleos Mexicanos said the use of more secure transportation methods has resulted in delays for fuel delivery to gas stations in the states of Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacan, Mexico and Queretaro. It is urging consumers not to panic or hoard gasoline, promising that supply will soon stabilise.

Frantic consumers have made a run on the pumps and social media has been filled with images of gas station signs saying they are out of fuel, and consumers comparing the thin supplies to scarcity for basic goods like bread and milk that plagued Mexico during the 1970s. The shortage has given ammunition to government critics, who say many of the new administration’s policies and goals are throwbacks to past decades.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on December 1, said last Sunday that complicity within Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, has allowed the fuel theft to blossom for years, growing from USD500,000 a year more than a decade ago to roughly USD3 billion in stolen fuel last year.