UPDATE 1-Mexico's Pemex files fresh suit in stolen fuel case

Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:46am GMT
 

* Mexico's Pemex says $300 mln in condensates stolen
    * Gangs linked to cartels sold fuel across the border
    * New suit filed to include more companies


    By Mica Rosenberg	
    MEXICO CITY, April 11 (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company
Pemex has filed a fresh lawsuit against a dozen oil companies
including units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, alleging they
sold fuel stolen by drug gangs, U.S. court filings show.	
    Pemex filed the new complaint in a court in the
Southern District of Texas on April 10, after a judge ruled
Mexico's oil monopoly could not add the Shell subsidiaries and
other companies, including ConocoPhillips, to an
original claim filed in 2010. 	
    Pemex's exploration and production arm (PEP) claims the
companies traded or transported upwards of $300 million of
natural gas condensates, which can be refined into high-value
oil products, that it says were hijacked by criminal gangs
linked to violent Mexican drug cartels and smuggled across the
U.S.-Mexico border.	
    "Some of the defendants knew, or at least should have known,
they were trading in or transporting, stolen condensate," the
court papers said. "Others were ignorant that they were
purchasing stolen goods. In either case, however, the defendants
took possession of Mexico's sovereign property." 	
    Mexico's oil resources are nationalized and Pemex is
controlled by the government.	
    The new case, which is almost identical to the original 2010
filing, alleges the U.S. trading arm of Shell, STUSCO, was the
largest marketer of the condensate, trading at least $150
million of the fuel but without knowing it was stolen. 	
    It says ConocoPhillips bought at least $35 million in stolen
fuel from third parties, also with no knowledge of the
condensate's illicit origin. Shell officials were not
immediately available for comment. ConocoPhillips officials said
it would not comment on ongoing legal matters.	
    A judge overseeing the 2010 case ruled earlier on April 10
that both companies, along with FR Midstream Transport, Marathon
Petroleum Company and Sunoco, could not be added to the suit
because it would result in excessive delays to the case.	
    Lawyers for PEP and Pemex representatives in Mexico City did
not respond to requests for comments.	
    PEP claims that at times the thefts reached up to 40 percent
of condensate produced at the Burgos field, which spans the
Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila.	
    The gas field has been menaced by powerful drug gangs
branching out into new illegal rackets in search of more
revenues. Drug violence in Mexico has killed more than 50,000
people in the past five years and Pemex workers have been
kidnapped and intimidated by the gangs.

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