What’s Going On In This Country?

January 23, 2017
BY: SANTIAGO VERDUGO

We are loved. Interest in Mexican properties among Americans was three times greater last year than in 2015 according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). 13% of prospective buyers of properties outside the United States wanted to buy in Mexico. In 2015 that figure was just 4%.

Florida Realtor Margarita Sanclemente said buyers want to spend their winters in locations with a better climate, such as the Riviera Maya. Buying a beach house in Florida is much costlier, particularly in terms of taxes and maintenance, than in Mexico, said the CEO of Sanclemente Group. The NAR data showed that 87% of U.S. citizens look for property abroad for use as a vacation home and as a rental. Sanclemente said the annual cost of maintaining a property in the U.S. is 1.8% of the property’s value. In Mexico the figure is just 0.2%, she said.

The areas in which Americans are most interested, such as the Riviera Maya and San Miguel de Allende, the Realtor said, are beginning to price properties in American dollars, meaning greater profits for developers and Realtors considering the peso’s decline in value.

No more bus. New vehicle sales in Mexico broke a record last year with 1.6 million units sold, 18.6% higher than 2015. December’s figures alone were up 19.9% over December 2015, with 192,567 vehicles sold, the highest figure ever for the month.

The general manager of the Mexican Automotive Dealers Association (AMDA) said price stability, better financing opportunities, and a decline in used auto imports contributed to the growth in light vehicle sales.

Nissan continues to hold the number 1 spot in market share with 25%, followed by General Motors with 19.2%, Volkswagen with 15.4% and Toyota and Chrysler tied with 6.5%. All makes saw increases except for Mazda, whose sales declined 4.4%.

AMDA has forecast a 6% increase in sales in 2017, although that prediction was made before the announcement of the January 1 fuel price increases.

How to steal gas. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to steal gas out of a pipeline, as Pemex is finding out. Oil crooks only need to find an unguarded length of pipe and make their own tap. First they drill a hole most of the way through, and then they use a rubber mallet to crack open the pipe without making a spark. (Sparks are bad in this business). Next, they insert a valve into the hole and then attach it with a hose to a tanker truck. The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes. Bada bing, bada bang.

Is U.S. gas being stolen? Pipeline thefts are relatively rare in the United States, where most equipment is buried at least five feet underground. Still, there are plenty of long, unguarded stretches of pipe. Much of the maintenance and inspection is done with robots called pigs that travel through the pipelines on their own. Live workers are few and far between.

Are these gas pipelines safe? While anti-pipeline advocates often point to safety concerns, a recent Forbes magazine article pointed out that, since 1996, more than twice as many barrels of crude oil have been spilled while being transported by tanker trucks than by pipelines.

Also, it costs about $5 to ship a barrel of oil by pipeline, versus $10 o $15 for each barrel shipped by tanker.