Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mexico sues, says drug cartels steal natural gas condensate to sell in U.S.

HOUSTON, Texas - Pemex, Mexico's national oil company, claims that violent drug cartels are stealing as much as 40 percent of the natural gas condensate from the enormous Burgos oil field in Northeast Mexico, and that the massive thefts are "encouraged and facilitated" by U.S. oil and pipeline companies that buy the gas and sell it in the United States.

Pemex Exploración y Producción (PEP) has sued nine oil and pipeline companies - seven of them based in Texas - and two of their officers, in Federal Court.

Pemex claims that "in recent years" drug cartels have "hijacked at gunpoint PEP tankers" in remote areas of the oilfields of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Coahuila states; that "PEP officials were kidnapped and threatened with violence," and that "the cartels built tunnels and even their own pipelines to facilitate the thefts."

The thefts, which have cost Mexico at least $300 million since 2006, have been so brazen that Pemex "enlisted the assistance of the Mexican Army, which was mobilized to guard the fields," according to the 24-page complaint.

Pemex says the U.S. companies "knowingly or unwittingly" buy the stolen gas for sale in the United States.

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