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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.
BASF faces questions in the USA after buying stolen oil.
BASF spokesman Daniel Pepitone said the company has received a subpoena from the American Justice Department and is cooperating with authorities to clear up the case. He confirmed that BASF did business with Trammo Petroleum, but said, "we have no reason to believe that BASF had any involvement in the alleged wrongdoing."
According to court documents released on Friday, Houston-based president of Trammo Petroleum Donald Schroeder testified that he was contacted by two fuel company representatives from Continental Fuels and Murphy Energy. "They told me they had some Mexican condensate that they would like to sell," he told the federal court in May.
Schroeder admitted that he bought and re-sold the liquid hydrocarbon condensate, a substance that refiners can blend with crude oil to produce fuel and other products, knowing that it had been stolen.
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.
Schroeder is the first to be convicted as a result of the two-year cross-border investigation into oil smuggling from Mexico tied to organized crime. He has already paid a fine of $2 million (1.4 million euros) while he awaits his sentencing December.
Editor: Nick Amies