By KELIN DILLON
According to new documents obtained by non-profit group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), Mexico’s state-owned oil company Petróleos Mexicanos’ (Pemex) U.S. division did in fact engage in business with U.S. oil field services company Baker Hughes – despite Pemex previously denying that its North American division had any business affiliation with the U.S. company.
The purported relationship between Pemex and Baker Hughes was brought to light following a January 2022 scandal where Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) son, José Ramón López Beltrán, was found to be inhabiting a now-infamous multi-million dollar house owned by Baker Hughes Senior Executive Keith Schilling in Houston, Texas.
Considering there was no corresponding rental contract filed with the Texan authorities, rumors flew that López Beltrán was living in the Baker Hughes executive’s house without paying rent, an arrangement some alleged was allowed due to Baker Hughes’ $66 million worth of contracts with the Mexican government at the time.
Soon after López Beltrán began inhabiting the house at the end of 2019, Baker Hughes’ contracts with the Mexican government skyrocketed from $66 million to $414 million dollars within three months, details the MCCI documents.
Despite the public scandal, Pemex and Baker Hughes alike held firm that their U.S. divisions did not engage in business with one another at the time of López Beltrán’s residency – a statement of events now refuted by the MCCI’s eye-opening documents.
“Mexico is not included in the North America region for Baker Hughes. Internally, sales and operations in Mexico are organized within the separate entity called Latin America and South America,” Baker Hughes stated in Feb. 2021 shortly after López Beltrán’s housing scandal came to light.
“During his time at Baker Hughes, Schilling worked under our North American group and, within Baker Hughes, Mexico is not under the North American group; Mexico is under our Latin American group,” added the company to address Schilling’s purported role in the scandal.
However, the newly acquired information reveals that a Baker Hughes subsidiary signed a contract with Pemex Procurement International (PPI) at its Houston headquarters on Aug. 16, 2019, the very same day López Beltrán and his wife moved into Schilling’s Houston mansion.
Then, between Aug. 23 and Oct. 23, 2019, PPI awarded two Baker Hughes subsidiaries another $1.94 million worth of contracts, with a total of eleven contracts between the two companies and their affiliates signed between 2019 and 2021 to the tune of at least $29 million.
The true number of contracts between Pemex and Baker Hughes and their total value is still undetermined, as Pemex has an arrangement to not disclose all of its PPI division’s contracts.
In fact, the MCCI was only able to procure the known contracts in question from an information request to the Institute for Access to Information (INAI) after the original documents were allegedly hid by PPI President Carmelina Esquer, the daughter of AMLO’s own personal secretary, during the MCCI’s initial transparency request.
Pemex ultimately only delivered 200 contracts out of the more than 500 signed under the current López Obrador administration for transparent review, eleven of which corresponded to Baker Hughes, meaning the true extent of the relationship between Pemex, Baker Hughes and their subsidiaries could be yet to be revealed.