MEXICO CITY – The Mexican government launched on Friday a mobile application allowing users to get real-time information on the prices of gasoline at stations near them.
GasoApp works through geolocation technology that pinpoints the user’s location and shows the closest gas stations and their prices, Energy Secretary Rocio Nahle told a press conference.
“This app is an invitation for all Mexicans to download it onto out cell-phones,” she said of the app, which comes amid ongoing spot shortages of gas connected with government efforts to combat theft of fuel from pipelines.
“This is going to help us because, under the law, gasoline is in the free market and we do have very substantial price differences,” she said.
Making price information widely available may reduce that variation, Nahle said.
Stealing fuel from pipelines owned by state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and re-selling it on the black market has become a major criminal enterprise in Mexico and cost the nation’s economy some $3.4 billion last year, according to official figures.
Since his Dec. 1, 2018, inauguration, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has launched an all-out fight against the racket, deploying thousands of police and troops to increase the surveillance of pipelines.
The administration also adopted a change in Pemex’s method for shipping gasoline and diesel from refineries to urban distribution centers, opting to transport more fuel via tanker trucks instead of pipelines.
That modification has caused severe supply problems in at least 10 states and Mexico City and led to the closing of service stations and panic purchases.
The Lopez Obrador administration announced Thursday that it has acquired hundreds of tanker trucks in a bid to alleviate fuel shortages.
“During the process, which concluded yesterday, we entered into memoranda of understanding for 671 tanker trucks – equivalent to 140,000 barrels per day – at a cost of $92 million,” said Raquel Buenrostro, the chief clerk of the Finance and Public Credit Secretariat.
Last week, an illegal tap of a Pemex pipeline in central Mexico led to a deadly explosion and fire.
The death toll from the Jan. 18 incident stood Friday at 109 and 40 other people remain hospitalized.