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Clean up your side of the street

22 August 2009

NarcoGuerra Times noticed something not well reported yet about the recent PEMEX oil thefts:

This graf from yesterday’s AP story is a reminder of what’s been previously posted here at emphasis added..

Mexico’s federal police commissioner, Rodrigo Esparza, cited the Zetas as an example. He said the fierce gang aligned with the Gulf drug cartel used false import documents to smuggle at least $46 million worth of oil to U.S. refineries”

That’s “import”, as in US docs not in Crescenzi/Continental who “imported” the condensate. Which brings a strong suspicion that Crescenzi/Continental were dealing with Zetas either directly or with a cut-out in Mexico.

If they were US customs docs, they were either falsified by Continental or somebody at Customs. If they were outright counterfeits, the Zetas were fully capable of providing those.

The PEMEX pipeline thefts have been somewhat under-reported, but as commentator “Bear Rodgers” pointed out, much of the blame is on PEMEX management (or lack thereof), and simply cleaning house at PEMEX is not going to resolve the problem.

HOWEVER, as much as I’d like to make the Zetas into super-villians, and led by some Mexican Doctor Moriarity, and much as I’d like to also like the see those real life super-villians, the  Bush family get their comuppance, I don’t think the massive pipeline thefts are going to add up this way.

Clearly PEMEX pipelines need a better security system (in a follow up e-mail, Bear suggested that monitoring equipment, monitors, followup — or all three, are sorely in need of improvement) and certainly organized crime is always looking for expanding business opportunities, but this is just another one of those simple smuggling crimes that depends on willing buyers on the other side.  I don’t think it’s possible to be in the Texas oil business without some ties to the Bush family (as a lowly contract technical writer for Exxon for a couple of years, there’s still one degree of separation between me and the Bushes).  The crime here is the United States depends on foreign oil even more than it depends on foreign narcotics.

Deutsche Welle, which is covering the story because the German company BASF was the buyer of the stolen oil products,  reports on how massive the thefts are, suggesting this was not something that just “slipped by” United States customs officials:

A Texas oil executive says his company was one of several that bought stolen Mexican petroleum and sold the illicit products to large corporations including German chemical giant BASF.

Current investigations indicate that the condensate was tapped from pipelines belonging to the Mexican oil company Pemex and smuggled into the USA by road tankers. The oil was then collected at a port in Brownsville, Texas, from where it was delivered to customers including BASF. Pemex, which is the only legal owner and exporter of Mexican oil to the US, has been struggling for years to stop an endless series of illegal taps on its pipelines.

Corruption is needed to grease the wheels of commerce in these particular substances, and the corruption hardly ends at the Mexican border.

Mexico recently — and controversially –– made radical changes in its own customs’ service.  I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the reciprocol change on the other side.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bear Rodgers permalink
    23 August 2009 11:44 am

    Condensate and crude oil are even easier to steal than refined products because they can be taken directly from the well head or the gathering system before they are even logged into the system. With the help of insiders the paper work could actually be on official documents and even the truck driver might not know it is illegal cargo. One of the things I noticed in the BASF article was that Murphy Energy was one of the companies to have this condensate for sale. They are one of Walmarts biggest suppliers.

  2. 23 August 2009 12:24 pm

    As always, much thanks for your insight. I hadn’t caught the Murphy Oil connection… so that’s how WalMart keeps their prices low.

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