MEXICO CITY Mexicos auto industry is pushing for more playersto take part in the countrys natural gas pipeline industry in the wake of last months terrorist attacks on energy pipelines here.
The attacks forced the closure of six auto assembly plants and hundreds of parts operations for up to a week. Now automakers want legislation that could see fuel distribution handled not only by state monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) but also by private contractors.
Humberto Jasso, automotive cluster director at the countrys economy ministry, told Automotive News last week that Mexican authorities had lowered their guard prior to the explosions in southern Mexico on Sept. 10.
Being close to the U.S. made us feel comfortable. So it was not that difficult to have an attack of this nature, Jasso said.
He added that the attacks, which a leftist rebel group called the Peoples Revolutionary Army said it carried out, cost Pemex $1 billion in lost income.
The blasts prompted the Mexican presidency, intelligence agencies, finance ministry and Pemex to think of ways to prevent such acts of sabotage from happening again.
Intelligence activities have been stepped up to find those responsible. Surveillance has been increased at strategic points of the pipelines that run from southern Mexico to the center and west of the country.
You cant have everything going through a single point, said Jasso, adding that the automotive industry had expressed its concerns about future supplies.
It is hard to tell who is behind it, Jasso said. They (the authorities) lowered their guard.
But he said he was confident that a solution can be found to have alternative routes.
We would like alternative sources of energy and alternative routes for all these pipelines, Jasso said. It may even require legislative changes in energy matters, trying to deregulate the (movement) of energy and offering concessions for (alternative) pipelines to go through Mexican territory.
Automakers affected by the outage were Volkswagen AG, Chrysler LLC, General Motors, Honda Motor Co., and Ford Motor Co.
About 200 supplier plants, including those of Delphi Corp. and Visteon Corp., also were shut down because of a shortage of natural gas or because they received instructions to stop deliveries.