GALENA PARK, Texas (FOX 26) - Custom made for the national oil company of Mexico, the offshore drilling rig rises 20 stories off the ground. The structure and another just like it have never been used.
That's because Pemex, which ordered the $229 million worth of equipment, refuses to pay the cost of construction, leaving dozens of American companies in dire financial condition.
"They are owned by the government of Mexico and because they are owned by the government they feel like they can do whatever they want without consequences," said Joe Ditta of Southcoast Manufacturing in Galena Park.
Ditta says getting stiffed on his part of the Pemex project triggered heavy layoffs and quite nearly drove him out of business.
"There was absolutely zero reason for Pemex to back out of this. When it went south we lost almost everything. We lost our life savings. We leveraged our homes. They are in jeopardy now," said Ditta.
In Channelview, a massive pile of rusty mast sections at Owens Specialty Company serve as a painful, daily reminder of the broken Pemex deal.
"A lot of people who did the work are no longer here, unfortunately," said Brandt Owens.
"Everybody has had to take cuts. We have lost so many of our guys," said Luke Owens, the firm's General Manager.
The Owens brothers say the breach of faith by Mexico did deep and lasting damage to the business their grandfather built from scratch 44 years ago.
They and many others are now calling on our nation's leaders to set things right.
"This is not just a few companies. This is the livelihood of lots of people," said Luke Owens.
Documents reviewed by FOX 26 indicate the two rigs were approximately 80 percent complete and fully approved by inspectors when Pemex revealed it would not pay for the equipment.
Calls and emails to Pemex seeking comment have not been returned.
PEMEX responded to FOX 26 late Thursday night saying, “During the execution of the works, it was detected that the modular units did not meet the basic specifications requested, so in the exercise of the contractual rights that the consortium knew and accepted since the signing of the contract, the trust terminated the contracts.”
PEMEX goes on to say, “Pemex considers that the termination of the contracts was in accordance with the applicable regulations, and the causes for which the contracts had to be terminated are attributable to the consortium. Furthermore, prior to the termination of the contracts, the consortium was allowed to submit viable projects to correct the deficiencies, however, it did not do so.”