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.

600,000 barrels of oil is being loss in Nigeria each year, according to the Maritime Industry Advocacy Initiative.

Based 0n the value of oil on the day of the press report, the annual losses to oil smuggling to Nigeria is $24.64 Billion a year.

Source: Valerie Anofoochi, “N3.7tn lost yearly to illegal bunkering In Nigeria,” Daliy Times, May 20, 2011.

At the start of 2011, police reported that there were 180 organized crime gangs in Northern Ireland who were involved in black market rackets such as counterfeiting and fuel smuggling.

(See more examples of racketeering.)

Source: “Warning over number of crime gangs,” Herald, March 23, 2011.

Gas and oil smuggling in Mexico creates a black market worth between $2 Billion to $4 Billion a year.

Source: Ioan Grillo, “Stolen Oil: A Gusher of Cash for Mexican Drug Cartels,” Time, March 9, 2011.


Oil smuggling in Mexico dropped in 2010 as state oil producer Pemex reported 1.7 million barrels of oil being stolen in 2010, compared to the nearly 5 billion barrels of oil that was smuggled in 2008.

Pemex also found 712 illegal connections to its oil pipelines, almost double the amount of illegal connections in 2009.

From the illegal connections to pipelines, Pemex estimates that 10,000 barrels of oil worth $700,000 was smuggled onto the black market every day.

Source: Robert Campbell, “Mexico oil thieves get sophisticated amid crackdown,” Reuters, January 20, 2011.

Gas smuggling in Greece is estimated to cost $2.6 Billion (2 Billion Euros) a year.

Source: “Financial crimes squad (SDOE) special secretary Kapeleris: illegal fuel trade costs 2 billion euros annually,” Athens News Agency, September 16, 2010.

Shell Petroleum reported that in 2009, 98 percent of oil spills in the Niger Delta was due to vandalism and attempts at oil smuggling, with 2 percent of spills due to equipment failure.

Source: Olusola Bello, “Shell worried by increasing oil theft,” Business Daily, June 17, 2010.

In 2009, an average of 8,432 barrels of oil was stolen each day in Mexico and smuggled onto the black market. There were 462 illegal pipeline taps in 2009, compared to 102 illegal taps in 2004.

In 2008, police arrested 528 people for oil smuggling.

Source: Chris Hawley, “Stolen oil fueling Mexico’s drug war,” Arizona Republic, May 30, 2010.

Iran losses $1.13 Billion a year to oil smuggling within its country, according to country officials.

1.8 billion liters of oil products is smuggled abroad.

Source:  AFP, “Oil smuggling costs Iran ‘billions of dollars’,” Mail and Guardian, June 19, 2006.

Oil smuggling in China between 2002 and 2006 led to oil pipelines being drilled18,382 times. The oil smuggling by thieves led to losses of $72 Million.

Source: Xin Dingding, Li Jing and Wan Zhihong, “China faces new risk: Attacks on pipelines,” China Daily, January 6, 2010.

In 2008, the United States Department of State reported that up to 30 percent of refined fuels in Iraq were being diverted and smuggled to the black market.

Source: Nathan Vardi, “The Energy Underworld,” Forbes, June 11, 2008.