(Adds shutdown of key pipelines ordered by Mexican president, paragraph 3)
HOUSTON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Traders of refined petroleum products said on Wednesday that pipeline system problems in Mexico may explain the third straight record increase in U.S. Gulf Coast gasoline stockpiles.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said the Gulf Coast gasoline inventory reached 90.96 million barrels last week, according to the EIA.
Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has ordered the closure of key Mexican pipelines in an attempt to halt rampant theft of gasoline and diesel fuel. This has caused shortages in that country and sparked concerns of an impact to its economy if the shortfalls are prolonged.
Across the United States, gasoline inventories hit 255.6 million barrels, the highest weekly level since February of 2017, EIA data shows.
Pipeline problems in Mexico have cut gasoline imports by 36 percent of what they were a year ago, traders said.
Mexico has imported 292,000 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline from the U.S. Gulf through the first 13 days of January, according to Matthew Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData. This compares to January 2018's pace of 457,000 bpd. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly in New York; additional reporting and writing by Erwin Seba in Houston; Editing by David Gregorio)