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But before the Texas coast kicks off its shrimp season July 15, Purata and many other shrimpers along the Gulf of Mexico’s coastline say they are sailing south. Like other industries in the United States, shrimping businesses have been hit hard by soaring fuel costs and some are finding relief, if only temporary, by filling up their tanks on Mexican shores.
Reyes owns six 18,000-gallon shrimp boats and pays $45,000 to fuel each in Tampico, Tamaulipas, as opposed to $75,000 per boat in Brownsville, he said.
His trip to and from Tampico takes four days and costs $5,000 to $6,500, including fuel, port and customs charges. Bob Jones, executive director of the Southeastern Fisheries Association in Florida, said low fuel prices in Mexico are worth the trip even for Florida shrimpers.
A host of factors may lie behind Mexico’s lower fuel prices, said Michelle Michot Foss, chief energy economist at the Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas at Austin.
State-owned petroleum company Petroleos Mexicanos, or PEMEX, distributes Mexican fuel, and the government sets prices.

Although crude oil is imported from Mexico and refined in the Gulf of Mexico region in the United States, there is no way to track whether the same refined products are going back into Mexico to be sold at lower prices, Foss said.
The only joint venture in which this does happen is at Deer Park Refining in Baytown, Texas. Less than 11 percent of refined diesel fuel is imported into Mexico from the United States, said Eric Potter, associate director for the Bureau of Economic Geology at UT Austin. Before considering traveling to Mexico, local shrimpers would typically fuel up at S&S Sales shrimping company at the shrimp basin. The company has not done so this year, however, because it can no longer afford enough fuel in the United States, Snodgrass said.
Meanwhile, Purata said he was lucky enough to make the trip to Tampico but would sell his boat if anyone would buy it. The Jet Ski has been in storage, but is ready for a new home, and ready to hit the water!I took it out two weeks ago to run it. Although some need repairs, most simply lack the fuel to head to Louisiana, where shrimping season has begun.

But shrimpers travel to the city from as far as Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, Reyes said.
But labor costs and environmental regulations are also less in Mexico than in the United States, Foss said. S&S would sell 8 million to 9 million gallons of diesel fuel a year to local and outside boating companies on credit, office manager Jack Snodgrass said. Reyes said some 70 percent of Brownsville shrimp boats remain docked because owners can’t afford the fuel. Had it in for a tuneup this spring and everything was inspected and any worn parts were replaced to ensure reliability - carbs, spark plugs, jet pump, etc.

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