Cause of Mexico Pipeline Blast Looks Like Oil Theft

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 @ 04:12 PM gHale

The cause of Sunday’s oil pipeline explosion in San Martin Texmelucan, in Puebla state, Mexico, remains under investigation, but preliminary reports point to the illegal extraction of oil from the pipe, officials said.

At least 28 people died and 52 others suffered injuries after an oil pipeline exploded in central Mexico, said officials at the country’s state-owned oil monopoly Pemex.

The scene was under control, but the extent of the damage was still undergoing assessment, Civil Protection Director Miguel Angel Martinez said. The pipe belongs to Pemex, the state-owned oil monopoly.

Some 32 houses were lost in the blast, Martinez said. Pemex said in a statement 115 homes suffered damage in the explosion.About 5,000 residents evacuated the scene, officials said.

Oil theft has been a persistent problem for Pemex. A report in the Washington Post found drug cartels were increasingly diversifying into other areas, including oil theft, to the tune of more than $1 billion in a two-year period.

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