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U.S. Firms Accused of Buying Natural Gas from Known Mexican Smugglers

For five years Pemex Exploracion y Produccion has accused US companies of enabling a black market in natural gas liquids to exist by knowingly buying stolen gas from Mexican bandits. The organised group steal gas from the Burgos field in the Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon states of northern Mexico, and transport the fuel across the border in hijacked tankers. So far they have continued to elude army troops and helicopters deployed to defend the field.

Attorney James Teater said of the criminals that “as long as they see a market for stolen Pemex condensate, they will find a way to steal it.”

Pemex has been trying to include ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. affiliates, Shell Chemical Co. and Shell Trading (U.S.) Co., Marathon Petroleum Co. LP, Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals LP, and FR Midstream Transport LP to the lawsuit filed against BASF Corp. (BASF) and Murphy Energy Corp. However US District Judge Simeon Lake ruled in a hearing yesterday that the additional six firms can’t be added to the litigation seeking more than $300 million in compensation for the stolen condensate sold in the US. “The addition of new defendants would add new and complex issues to an action that is already protracted and complicated,” said Judge Lake. Although they will be allowed to add an extra three US firms to the case, as the judge announced that Plains Marketing LP, RGV Energy Partners LLC, and St. James Energy Operating Inc. are already involved via related parties.

Five people have already pleaded guilty to US criminal charges attached to the smuggling ring.

Pemex may look to sue the additional companies in a separate lawsuit.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com


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