Oil Theft

Information and statistics about oil theft and oil smuggling. Data about the black market in stolen petroleum is collected from published intelligence reports, security agencies and other public information sources.

Due to oil theft activities, around 30,000 jobs have been lost in Nigeria between 2011 to 2013, according to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).

The Finance Minister in Nigeria stated that up to 400,000 barrels of oil was being stolen per day in 2012.

Source:  Akinola Ajbande, “30,000 lose jobs to oil theft,” The Nation, August 5, 2013.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, around 1.5 billion liters of fuel is smuggled out of Algeria each year.

The amount of fuel that is smuggled is worth $15 Million per year.

The fuel is smuggled to the border of Morocco, where the region consumes more fuel each year than the capital of Algeria.

Algeria has the third cheapest fuel price in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Source:  “1.5 bn litres of fuel smuggled each year in Algeria,” India, New York Daily News, July 24, 2013.

In the first half of 2013, environmental officials in Ireland recovered 400 tons of waste that was illegally dumped by organized crime groups in Ireland. The waste was used to create white fuel that was used by drivers, and included ingredients such as sulfuric acid, cat litter, charcoal, and sand.

In 2012, officials seized 445 tons throughout the entire year.

Law enforcement agencies across the country discovered 11 illegal oil and fuel producing plants in 2012. The fuel smuggling operations was estimated to have cost the government up to $130 Mill lion (€100 Million) in tax revenue.

Source:  Stephen Breen, “Smuggling gangs take us for fuels,” Irish Sun, July 15, 2013.


In the first six months of 2013, criminal justice officials reported investigating 85 cases of diesel smuggling. The value of the diesel seized by officials was worth $101,000 (323,000 Malaysian Ringgit.)

In 2012, there were a total of 168 cases of diesel smuggling worth $470,000 (1.5 Million Ringgit.)

Diesel smuggling in Malaysia occurs due to the price differences between subsidized fuel available at petrol stations versus the price of diesel for industrial companies. At a petrol station, diesel is available for 1.80 Ringgits per liter, while companies pay 2.49 Ringgit per liter.

Source:  Sarah Rahim, “Diesel smuggling still on the rise,” New Straits Times, July 5, 2013.

According to the African Union, countries in Africa has lost up to $200 Billion to illegal fishing activities over 5 decades, and up to $100 Billion to oil theft between 2003 to 2013.

The losses are due to increased pirate attacks in the region. The Nigerian Navy reported in 2013 that up to 10 to 15 pirate attacks are taking place each month in the Gulf of Guinea.

(More data about illegal catches worldwide.)

Source:  Augustine Ehikioya, “Nigeria, others lose $300bn to oil theft, illegal fishing,” Nation, June 24, 2013.

According to the Kyiv Motorist Club, one out of every three liters of fuel sold in Ukraine is substandard or counterfeit.

The motor club conducted tests at major gas stations and found that 30 percent of the gas did not meet Ukraine or Euro standards.

According to energy experts, the number of filling stations that are checked by Ukrainian officials between 2008 and 2013 fell by a rate of 2.8 times.

Source:  “Every third liter of petrol at Ukrainian filling stations is counterfeit, says study,” Interfax-Ukraine, June 5, 2013.

Company officials with Mexico’s state oil company Pemex stated that it was losing between 5,000 to 10,000 barrels of oil each day to theft.  Pemex produces 2.5 million barrels of oil per day.

The company stated that the number of oil theft incidents was increasing each year by 30 percent.

In 2012, the company discovered 1,744 illegal siphons of its pipelines during the year.

Source:  “Mexico’s Pemex says losing up to 10,000 bpd to oil theft,” Reuters, June 6, 2013.

HM Revenue and Customs in the United Kingdom discovered 388 occasions where criminals were selling illegal fuel to motorists. The number of incidents discovered during the 2012-2013 time period was 48 percent higher than the 262 detections in 2009-2010. Norther Ireland had 128 detections of illegal fuel sites, with 260 sites being in the rest of the UK.

Previously, HMRC estimated that anywhere from $227 Million to $1 Billion (£150 Million to £700 Million) is lost in fuel tax revenue from illegal fuel smuggling and sales.

Reporters from the BBC were offered a liter of “cheap diesel” for $1.75 (£1.15), approximately 25 percent cheaper than the legitimate retail price. When the fuel was later tested, it was found to be contaminated and substandard.

Source:  Angus Crawford, “Illegal fuel: 48% rise in ‘pop-up garages’,” BBC News, May 31, 2013.

According to statistics collected by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), there were 33 pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria in 2010. In 2012, the number of attacks increased to 58.

Shipping security analysts state that the number of pirate attacks are under-reported. According to security consultants, at least one pirate attack is taking place each day, with the forecast showing that up to 2 may occur in 2013.

The number of pirate attacks off the coast of Nigeria comes as the number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia decreased in 2012. Somali pirates attacked 75 vessels in 2012. In the first five months of 2013, only 1 attack has been registered by the IMB.

Due to its developed oil industry, experts believe that pirates in Nigeria are able to make in 10 days what pirates in Somalia make in 10 months.

Source:  Joe Bavier, “INSIGHT-Nigerian pirate gangs extend reach off West Africa,” Reuters, May 29, 2013.

Mexican State Oil Company Pemex discovered 1,744 illegal siphons of its oil pipelines in 2012, a 23.2 percent increase from the 1,416 illegal siphons in 2011.

The rate of oil theft continued to increase into 2013, as the company discovered 730 illegal siphons in the first four months of the year, compared to 377 during the same time the year before.

In the first four months of 2013, security personnel have arrested 48 people for siphoning oil from pipelines and arrested 180 people for oil smuggling activities.

Source:  James Bargent, “Oil and Gas Theft in Mexico Doubled in 2013,” Insight Crime, May 10, 2013.