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.

Security officials in Nigeria reported that they destroyed 748 illegal refineries in the region in the first four months of 2013. In addition to breaking down the refineries, the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta arrested 498 suspects who were involved in oil theft and oil bunkering. 55 suspected kidnappers were also arrested during the operations.

545 boats, 26 barges and 18 vessels were also seized.

Source:  “Nigeria: Oil Theft – JTF Destroys 748 Illegal Refineries, Arrests 498 Suspects,” All Africa, May 7, 2013.

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell said that over 90 percent of oil spills from pipelines and other operations in Nigeria during 2012 were due to acts of sabotage. In its annual sustainability report, the company reported that around 26,000 barrels of oil were spilled in Nigeria.

During 2009 to 2012, Shell estimates that 85 percent oil spills in Nigeria was due to theft and attempted theft.

Source:  Richard Blackden, “Shell demands Nigeria do more to stop rising oil theft,” Telegraph, April 12, 2013.

According to the Chairman and CEO of Petron, an estimated 36 million barrels of oil was smuggled into the Philipines in 2012. Oil industry officials also estimate that up to one-third of the oil sold on the market has been smuggled.

Source:  Gil Cabacungan, “Petron hits oil smuggling,” Inquirer, April 2, 2013.


In March 2013, diesel smugglers in Pakistan were selling a liter of fuel in $1.06 (104 Pakistani Rupee), less than the official price of $1.14 (112 Rupee). The fuel was smuggled into the black market from Iran.

Traders of the black market diesel estimated between 100 to 130 fuel tankers that each hold between 25,000 to 40,000 liters of fuel are smuggled from Iran to Pakistan or Afghanistan each day.

Source:  Hamdan Albaloshi, “FEATURE-Iran sanctions spur boom for Pakistani diesel smugglers,” Reuters, March 31, 2013.

Italian oil company Eni reported in March 2013 that it was suspending operations in Southern Nigeria due to rampant oil theft and sabotage.

The company was producing up between 35,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil per day in its oil fields in Bayelsa. Bunkering activities were causing losses of up to 60 percent of the oil production.

Source:  AFP, “Italy’s ENI curbs activities in Nigeria due to oil theft,” Google News, March 23, 2013.

The Treasury of the United Kingdom is estimated to be losing up to $38 Million (£25 Million) in duties each year to the theft of used cooking oil. The oil is being stolen from restaurants and converted into biodiesel. The unregulated fuel is then sold on the black market.

The cost to convert used cooking oil to biodiesel when done by legitimate companies is $1.89 (£1.24) per liter. When done illegally on the black market, the cost per liter drops to $0.30 (£0.20).

During an 11 month span between 2012 to 2013, Revenue and Customs Officials in the UK shut down 24 black market biodiesel factories.

Source:  Emma Forde, “Cooking oil theft ‘costs Treasury £25m a year in lost duty’,” BBC News, March 22, 2013.

An estimated $20 Billion a year is lost in tax revenue in the Philippines due to black market smuggling.

Commodities such as petroleum, rice and fertilizer are among the items that avoid taxes.

Source:  Cai Ordinario, “‘PH loses $20-B to smuggling each year’,” Rappler, February 26, 2013.

The Government of Nigeria estimates that it is losing up to $6 Billion a year to oil theft and oil smuggling on the black market. The Nigerian Government wants international help in cracking down on the money laundering of stolen proceeds.

Oil industry companies such as Shell state that thieves are also sabotaging pipelines to steal oil.

Source:  AFP, “Nigeria wants world’s help to slow massive oil theft,” Google News, February 19, 2013.

Count police in West Texas estimate that oil drillers in the area are losing equipment worth $20 Million a year to theft.

Thieves steal drilling equipment and other items in order to resell the goods on the black market. Some of the equipment are brought over the border and sold in Mexico.

Source:  Dave Fehling, “Fraud in the Oil Fields: A Boom in Theft Costs Texas Industry Millions,” StateImpact, February 18, 2013.


Indonesian oil company Pertamina reported that it lost up to $52 Million (500 Billion Indonesian Rupiah) to oil theft and oil smuggling in 2012. Company officials stated up between 800 to 1,100 barrels of oil was stolen from its pipeline in Sumatra each day. The amount lost to smugglers accounted for 5 percent of the energy companies daily production in the area.

In the first week of January 2013, the company reported that up to 1,500 barrels of oil was being stolen from its pipelines each day, accounting for 6.5 percent of its total output.

The company reported that it will begin the process of moving its pipelines underground to prevent oil thieves from stealing its oil.

Source:  “Slippery Oil Thieves Cost Pertamina Up to Rp 500b in 2012,” Jakarta Globe, January 8, 2013.