* Eleven U.S. companies named in suit
* Burgos gas field targeted, up to 40 pct of output robbed
* More than $300 million in gas concentrate stolen
By Mica Rosenberg
MEXICO CITY, May 31 Mexico's state-run oil
company Pemex is suing eleven U.S. companies for buying up to
$300 million of fuel stolen by drug gangs and smuggled across
the U.S.-Mexico border, court documents showed.
Pemex's exploration and production (PEP) unit
filed the suit on Sunday in a U.S. district court in Texas
claiming some of the companies conspired with Mexican criminals
to forge documents and smuggle the hijacked natural gas
"The defendants have participated and profited -- knowingly
or unwittingly -- in the trafficking of stolen condensate in the
United States and have thereby encouraged and facilitated the
Mexican organized crime groups that stole the condensate," the
Included on the list of alleged offenders are U.S. end users
of the liquid fuel that can be easily refined into high-value
oil products, including Plains All American Pipeline LP ,
SemGroup's SemCrude subsidiary and Western Refining
Pemex's Burgos natural gas field that spans the northern
Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila has been
menaced by powerful drug gangs branching out into new illegal
rackets in search of more revenues.
"PEP has lost large amounts of its condensate, at times
approaching 40 percent of the production of condensate from the
Burgos field. Since 2006, more than $300 million worth of
condensate has been stolen," the lawsuit said.
Mexico is heavily dependent on revenues from its
state-controlled oil industry, which accounts for around 40
percent of the government's annual revenues.
The claim details the mode of operation of fuel thieves, who
have kidnapped, intimidated and killed oil workers in the area.
The cartels held up at gunpoint Pemex transport tankers and
then built tunnels, and even their own pipelines, to move the
gas condensates, the filing states. The stolen goods were then
transferred into tankers allowed to cross the U.S.-Mexico
border, either with forged documents or by bribing border
officials, according to court documents.
"Since August 2006, no Pemex entity has sold PEP condensate.
Thus, any Mexican condensate which entered the United States
after August 2006 was stolen and brought in without title or
right," the suit says.
More than 38,000 people have been killed since President
Felipe Calderon launched an army backed campaign against cartels
in late 2006 and the spiraling violence is affecting parts of
Mexico's legitimate economy.
(Editing by Simon Webb)