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April 04, 2012

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Fantastic article, Noel. I am even more pessimistic than you are about Shields' solution. For years, PDVSA has suffered thefts of entire tanker trucks of fuel. The problem is not that it's difficult, technologically, to stop the theft. The problem is that the corruption reaches too high in the organization. There is a painfully big arbitrage to be made by breaching the rules. A Mexican tanker driver might earn $10,000 a year; a 10,000-gallon tanker truck might be transporting as much as $40,000 in a single shipment. So a single diverted shipment can double his salary, along with that of his boss and his boss's boss. In the case of PDVSA, I know a security consultant who priced out a GPS-based system for the tanker trucks years ago that would have ended thefts. The proposal was never enacted. No one knows why, but I think it's a fair guess that the people responsible for enacting it are making money off the status quo.

Some oils burn in liquid or aerosol form, generating heat which can be used directly or converted into other forms of energy such as electricity or mechanical work. To obtain many fuel oils, crude oil is pumped from the ground and is shipped via oil tanker to an oil refinery.

I live here in south Texas and stealing of natural gas condensate from Mexico and from ALL OVER south Texas has been a problem for decades. More so in South Texas because we have had oil and gas production since the 1930s and our field formations produce a lot of condensate. It's not like this is anything new. In fact, trucks of condensate continue to drive across the Los Indios Bridge in Pharr Monday thru Friday and delver to the tanks in Starr County just as Shell has done for years. Nothing has changed here on the ground. On our side of the border, the condensate is mostly stolen from ExxonMobil, El Paso Exploration, and Chevron. Nothing can be done because law enforcement has no training to patrol oilfields and it's always an inside job.

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