A fuel pipeline belonging to state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, exploded in the Gulf state of Veracruz while a gang was illegally tapping the conduit, but no injuries were reported, officials said.

The blast occurred on Monday in Paso Nuevo, a town outside the city of Tierra Blanca, burning the three vehicles used by the gang.

The fire affected the 12-inch Minatitlan-Mexico City pipeline, Pemex said.

State police, army troops and Pemex security personnel responded to the explosion and sealed off the area.

Pemex technicians shut down the pipeline temporarily, depressurizing the conduit so the fire could be brought under control.

The blaze destroyed three SUVs that were being used to transport the stolen fuel.

The state-owned oil giant said on Monday that fuel theft dropped last month.

Thieves stole 414,000 barrels of petroleum products from pipelines across Mexico in January, a figure that was down 34 percent from the same month in 2015, Pemex said.

Losses from fuel theft total about $5 billion annually, the state-owned oil giant said. EFE