As many as 200 000 people have been left without water supplies after a spill from an oil pipeline servicing the Agave 32 Petrochemical Complex in Tabasco State in southern Mexico. The spill was detected on Monday 13 April 2015, when drivers on the Villahermosa–Jalapa Highway reported a strong petrol-like smell, and was found to have contaminated around 60 km² of pastures and farmland, and to have reached the Teapa River, which flows through the communities of Puyacatengo Norte, Emiliano Zapata, and Huasteca. Storage plants at a local water-treatment plant were also found to be contaminated with oil, leading to supplies to domestic customers being cut; residents of the affected areas are currently being supplied by water from trucks provided by the state government.
Workers from Petróleos Mexicanos inspecting the damaged pipeline which produced the leak. The News: Mexico.
Investigators from Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), who operate the pipeline, have attributed the leak to the activities of oil thieves, who drill into pipelines in order to steal oil, but seldom have the ability or inclination to seal pipelines when they have finished. Oil theft is a rising problem in Mexico, as in many other countries, as high oil prices and a large section of the population surviving on very low incomes makes the pipelines an increasingly tempting target. The problem has become so severe that Pemex no longer transports finished fuel oils through such pipelines, though it still uses them for untreated crud, which is less easy to use.
The approximate location of the Agave 32 Petrochemical Complex. Google Maps.