Mexico's state oil company Pemex is reported to have sued German chemical maker BASF AG and several oil trading companies as per Reuters. Pemex has alleged that these parties had illegally profited from processing stolen oil. The suit seeks to recover payments BASF made to several trading companies for deliveries of condensate, a mixture of very light, liquid hydrocarbons extracted from natural gas fields that is processed in petrochemical plants. BASF, which operates a large petrochemical plant in Port Arthur, Texas, allegedly purchased at least US$2.4 mln worth of stolen condensate from other defendants named in the suit. Pemex does not say that BASF knew the condensate was stolen when it was purchased. Several people in the case, including top executives at some of the small trading firms that Pemex said had direct knowledge of the smuggling of stolen condensate, have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.
Organized gangs working with corrupt Pemex staff have begun stealing condensate and even crude oil in recent years. An estimated US$300 mln in condensate has been stolen since 2006, Pemex said in its lawsuit. At times thefts have approached 40% of the condensate produced at its Burgos gas fields in northeastern Mexico.