>> Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged motorists on Wednesday to stop panic buying at gas stations amid a massive fuel shortage.>> I call on the support of citizens. If it's not necessary to go to a petro station, then wait.>> The shortages were triggered after the government closed pipelines, and refineries and changed the fuel distribution system to choke out black market operators.
Reuters correspondent Dave Graham.>> Fuel theft has been a chronic problem in Mexico, going back many, many years. And the government estimates that it costs the state upwards of $1 billion, $2 billion, many more dollars a year. On the 27th of December, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador decided he was gonna take action against the fuel theft.
And he said the army was gonna step in to secure the installations of Pemex, the national oil company, to try and get grip on the problem.>> Since the crackdown, the government says fuel thefts have dropped from 787 truckloads per day to 27. But the intervention, which has caused widespread shortages, has angered Mexican consumers.
>> The problem has reached Mexico City as well. Right behind us here is a station that has just said it's run out of gas. People are still arriving, trying to fill up their cars. And as we understand it, the gas station will be open again when it's been refilled tomorrow.
>> In Leon, Guanajuato's biggest city, with a population of more than 1.5 million, only seven gas stations were open on Sunday. The crackdown is the leftist president's first major move against criminals and corruption since taking office on December 1st.>> This morning, the president said he would resist and not give an inch, essentially, to those he say are waiting for him to turn on the taps again so they can steal the oil.
The question is when it reaches breaking point, who is going to have to back down? Will it be the thieves or will it be the government?>> Critics say the bottlenecks in fuel supply are starting to affect manufacturing, especially the auto sector.