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.

A report in October 2012 stated that up to 180,000 barrels of oil was being stolen each day in Nigeria. Based on the price of oil at the time of the report, the country was losing $6 Billion a year to oil theft.

90 percent of the oil stolen from Nigeria is smuggled to foreign countries, such as Ukraine, Serbia or Bulgaria or refined in Singapore. 10 percent of the oil is refined locally by gangs.

Source:  “Stolen Nigeria oil ‘goes to Balkans and Singapore’,” BBC News, October 23, 2012.

An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 barrels of oil is stolen every day in Indonesia. The oil is siphoned from pipelines by illegal taps, according to an energy think tank in the country.

In the Southern Sumatra district of Bayung Lencir, 373 cases of oil theft have been reported in the first 9 months of 2012. In 2011, there were a total of 158 reported oil theft cases.

Source:  Amahl S. Azwar, “Govt criticized for inaction on rampant oil theft,” Jakarta Post, October 9, 2012.

In the first 9 months of 2012, security forces in Colombai reported an average of 512 barrels of oil per day being stolen. Security officials state that the high level of oil theft are being conducted by drug trafficking who use the stolen oil to produce cocaine.

According to the United Nations, producing one kilogram of cocaine requires between 74 to 86 gallons of oil.

Since beginning patrols in the second quarter of 2012, police have seized 21 cocaine refineries, 53 tanks that were used to process oil, and 226,000 gallons of stolen crude oil.

Source:  Heather Walsh, “Colombia Combats Martians Robbing Crude for Cocaine Labs,” Bloomberg, October 5, 2012.


In 2011, the Mexican government-controlled oil producer Pemex reported losing 3.35 Million barrels of fuel to oil smugglers. In 2010, the company lost 2.16 Million barrels of fuel. The estimated losses for the company in revenue to the oil theft and smuggling is around $1 Billion.

Back in 2008, oil theft cost the company $700 Million.

The oil theft has a severe impact on Mexico’s federal budget, as profits from Pemex pays for one-third of the government’s federal budget.

Source:  “Oil theft in Mexico: Black gold on the black market,” Economist, August

In June 2012, officials with oil companies and the Nigerian Government were reporting that over $1 Billion in oil revenue were being lost to the oil being stolen.

In 5 months, security services in Nigeria shut down over 900 illegal oil refineries across the country.

Source:  Heather Murdock, “In Niger Delta, Black-Market Oil Booms,” Voice of America, June 28, 2012.

As of May 14, 2012, oil company Royal Dutch Shell reported that it was losing up to 43,000 barrels of oil per day in Nigeria to oil theft activities. The company also reported that over three-fourths of oil spills that occurred in the country last year was the direct result of sabotage to the company’s pipelines.

In total, up to 150,000 barrels of oil is lost each day to “bunkering,” or theft by oil smuggling syndicates.

Source:  Tim Cocks, “Shell says losing 43,000 bpd to Nigeria oil theft,” Reuters, May 14, 2012.

Children between the ages of 12 to 15 earn up to $6.75 a day by selling black market fuel on the side of the roads in Colombia.

The largest area where children are selling the contraband fuel is on the Norther border along Venezuela.

Source:  Aaron Daugherty, “Colombia kids used in black market fuel trade,” Colombia Reports, March 5, 2012.

Fraud, corruption and black market smuggling of fuel leads to an estimated loss of $4 Billion a year in Nigeria, according to a legislative committee.

59 million liters of fuel is discharged from vessels across the country, yet only 35 million liters are consumed, leading to 24 million liters being smuggled out of the country.

Source:  James Jukwey, “Nigeria investigates $4 billion fuel subsidy fraud,” Reuters, January 19, 2012.

Oil smuggling on the black market in Kosovo is estimated to be a $100 Million industry.

The oil is produced in an oil refinery in Serbia and sold tax free to ethnic Serbs. They then smuggled it into Kosovo with the help of ethnic Albanians and sell the fuel at makeshift gas stations.

Source: Doreen Carvajal, “In Balkans, Smuggling Forges a Rare Unity,” New York Times, October 24, 2011.

Ecopetrol, Colombia’s largest petroleum company, reported losses of $11 Million due to oil theft and smuggling in 2010. An average of 369 barrels of oil was stolen from the company’s pipes every day in 2010. The amount of stolen oil increased by 95 percent from 2009.

Source: Travis Mannon, “Ecopetrol lost $11M in 2010 through oil theft,” Colombia Reports, September 27, 2011.