June 19, 2020 / 5:49 PM / a month ago

Pipeline theft falls in Brazil's Sao Paulo, as Petrobras cracks down

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 19 (Reuters) - Transpetro, the logistics unit of Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras , registered a 60% decline in fuel theft at its pipelines in the state of Sao Paulo, it said on Friday, suggesting investment to diminish such crimes is paying off.

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state, is the epicenter of fuel robbery in the South American nation, and also the home of some its most sophisticated organized crime groups.

While the number of thefts from pipelines in Brazil pales in comparison to thefts in nations like Mexico and Colombia, it is growing fast. Last year, Reuters reported that Petrobras Transporte SA, as the unit is formally known, had set up an internal unit with 50 employees to study the issue.

Petrobras CEO Roberto Castello Branco said theft cost Transpetro over 150 million reais ($28.2 million) per year.

In a statement, Transpetro said that the number of robberies in Sao Paulo fell from 23 in April to nine in May, and 12 in the same period last year.

Transpetro said it had been working closely with prosecutors and police in Sao Paulo, who had recently dismantled two gangs active in fuel theft.

($1 = 5.32 reais)

Reporting by Gram Slattery; editing by Diane Craft

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