Mexican state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos plans to invest 50 billion pesos (some $3.8 billion) to maintain its pipeline network in 2014, a top company executive said Thursday.

The head of Pemex's exploration and production unit, Carlos Morales Gil, made the announcement at the inauguration a pipeline industry gathering in the central Mexican city of Leon.

The investment will improve the efficiency and safety of pipeline transport and ensure the supply of fuel to Pemex's customers, company spokespersons consulted by Efe said.

Pemex said on Twitter that its pipeline network is made up of "nearly 70,000 kilometers (43,500 miles) of overland and marine conduits that traverse the nation's territory."

In an appearance Wednesday before the Mexican lower house's Energy Committee, Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya said the company had lost 14.9 billion pesos (some $1.1 billion) between 2012 and 2013 due to fuel theft, which he described as a "cancer" eating away at the oil company.

He therefore urged Mexican lawmakers to stiffen penalties against those responsible for illegal fuel taps.

Pemex suffers hundreds of incidents of hydrocarbon theft every year, in some cases involving organized crime gangs that illegally tap pipelines and sell the product on the black market.

In 2012 alone, a total of 8.2 million barrels were stolen from Pemex-operated pipelines in 1,744 illegal fuel taps.

On Dec. 19, 2010, a pipeline leak believed to have been caused by an illegal tap in the central town of San Martin Texmelucan triggered an explosion and fire that killed 30 people and left dozens of others injured. EFE