Thursday, November 16, 2023

Use drugs, run out of fuel - say what???


I hadn't expected "fuel crime" to become a thing in the illegal drugs industry, but here you go.

Colombia has a severe problem, cocaine. The South American country is the world’s largest producer of the narcotic, and it continues setting record highs for the cultivation of coca, the drug’s key raw ingredient, and cocaine production. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported for 2022 (Spanish) that the amount of land cultivated with coca soared 13% year over year to 230,000 hectares. This, the agency believes, possessed the potential to produce a record 1,738 metric tons of cocaine, yet another all-time high.

. . .

It is estimated that around 75 gallons, or 284 liters, of gasoline, is required to treat the approximately 440 pounds of coca leaves required to produce one kilogram of cocaine hydrochloride ... which means 130 million gallons, or 492 million liters, of gasoline was consumed during 2022 to produce 1,738 metric tons of cocaine. This tremendous amount of gasoline combined with soaring oil prices ... makes it extremely costly for Colombia’s illegal armed groups, which control the Andean country’s cocaine trade, to acquire the required volume of gasoline.

For those reasons, there are considerable incentives for criminal bands to steal oil from Colombia’s extensive network of petroleum pipelines, which are amplified by strict government controls on the sale of large volumes of gasoline.

. . .

Colombia’s Caño Limon and Transandino, known by their Spanish initials OTA, pipelines are the main targets for petroleum theft. Various criminal bands and illegal armed groups tap the pipelines with primitive valves to extract the oil flowing through them, often leaving pools of environmentally damaging petroleum behind ... Official records indicate the Caño Limon pipeline has suffered 1,600 attacks since commencing operation in 1986, most of which were bombings, but also includes the application of illicit valves to steal petroleum.

There's more at the link.

I've been aware of thefts of petroleum products from pipelines for decades.  In Africa, it's a growth business.  Hardly a month goes by without reports of large quantities of oil being stolen from sabotaged pipelines, many times sparking a conflagration that kills countless people trying to get free fuel.  Nigeria is probably the worst hotspot (you should pardon the expression) on the continent for that.  However, those crimes target the fuel itself, for its own value.  The criminals don't regard fuel as just another component needed for a much more lucrative and deadly crime.

This leads to another thought.  Could fuel rationing, either by default through short supply or by government edict, help reduce the amount of drugs on the market?  I'm not advocating that, you understand - just thinking things through.  There are wheels within wheels on this issue . . .



Rick T said...

Rationing is for little people. The rich or connected will be exempt and cartels will get their supplies one way or another (plumba o plata).

Gerry said...

If I was a major drug kingpin, it would make sense to buy controlling interest in a small refiner. They certainly have the cash and it could be a smart way to launder the money.

Dave said...

Clandestine production of your own gasoline would be a useful skill to learn.

Aesop said...

Let's don't be silly.
The cartels will have gasoline until hell freezes over.
They'll simply steal what they need from anyone else they can. Peons, or the government, same-same.

The only way to impact them would be if there were no gasoline available to steal.

What an entire country looks like under those conditions is medieval at best.
For countries like Columbia, that's not that much of a fall, outside the big cities.

Will said...

I'm not sure how to connect the memory that popped up when reading this post, but it sorta fits, I think.

Back when the music group ABBA was BIG, they had trouble getting paid for concerts in, I think, Eastern Europe. Lack of hard currency that was spendable in the real world, maybe the Ruble? Somehow, they ended up with an ownership stake in a non-US oil company as compensation. I heard about it when it was noted that their stake eventually was valued at $1 Billion. This was back when that was considered Real Money!
IIRC, that made them the richest music group at that point, but I never heard anything about it since.

Anonymous said...

That reminds me of how at one point Pepsi had the third largest navy in the world.
They had the exclusive soda contract in the Soviet Union but had to accept barter as payment - sometimes grain, sometimes oil, once a fleet of warships for their scrap value.

Dan said...

As long as demand for drugs exist the cash flow to acquire what's needed to produce the drugs will insure it's available. And eventually we will see pipelines being hacked and fuel tankers hijacked here... the criminals already rob trains as they travel and empty FedEx and UPS trailers on city streets in full view.

Old NFO said...

It's Colombia... Aesop is right.

Hamsterman said...

~450 lbs of gasoline + ~430 lbs coca leaf = 2.2 lbs cocaine.

What is the waste product? 900 lbs of flammable leaf mush?

Oh, and I've heard of a product in Peru: coca-leaf infused Pisco. Must be a competitor to 'rum and coke'.