By Elinor Comlay, Mica Rosenberg and M.B. Pell / Reuters
The state-owned petroleum giant Pemex paid $9 million in 2011 to have an oil rig towed halfway round the world, from the United Arab Emirates to the Gulf of Mexico. When government auditors looked at the contract, they turned up some problems.
The rig had the wrong equipment for the assignment, according to a report by Mexican congressional auditors. And the tow job itself was a fiction: The rig didn’t need to be moved. It was already in the Gulf of Mexico.
The auditors alerted Pemex in February 2013, urging it to discipline the employees who handled the contract. Pemex did nothing. About a year later, an explosion aboard the rig killed two workers. The cause of the blast is still under investigation by Pemex.
The rig deal, a Reuters examination finds, is typical of the way Pemex and the government respond to widespread signs of fraud in the company’s vast contracting budget: by looking the other way.
Reuters identified more than 100 Pemex contracts signed between 2003 and 2012, worth $11.7 billion, that were cited as having serious problems.
Pemex almost always disregards warnings.