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Up to 1,200 firms hurt by Mexico pipeline blasts

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Up to 1,200 companies in Mexico have stopped production because of problems with the supply of natural gas following a rash of pipeline explosions caused by rebels, an industrial group said on Thursday.

The leftist Popular Revolutionary Army, or EPR, has claimed responsibility for four attacks to state monopoly Pemex’s pipelines carrying natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, crude oil and gasoline over the past week.

“There are more than a thousand, nearly 1,200 companies, that have been greatly hurt because of the lack of (gas) supply,” industrial group Canacintra’s head Victor Manuel Lopez told Reuters.

Automakers like Honda Motor, Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors are among the companies hurt by the blasts, he said.

Industrial hubs in central states like Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Jalisco and Queretaro are the most affected by the gas shortage, Lopez said.

Pemex said on Thursday it had restoring natural gas supply to the central city of Queretaro and hoped to restore supply in Jalisco and the city of Guadalajara by midnight. It said it expects to have supplies fully restored by the end of the week.

“Workers at Petroleos Mexicanos connected a bypass to the Mexico-Guadalajara natural gas duct and began tests,” the company said in a statement.

Mexico has deployed soldiers and federal police to protect Pemex’s oil wells and pipelines from further attacks.

Mexico’s top glass maker, Vitro, said on Wednesday it had halted operations at two of its plants, meaning $800,000 less in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) per day.