Nigerian authorities have seized a ship carrying 300 tonnes of illegally refined diesel and arrested 11 people on it. They said on Thursday, as part of efforts to curb oil theft that officials estimate siphons off up to a fifth of the country’s output. Oil theft from Africa’s top producer is a major cause of complaint from oil companies and the finance ministry, both of which lose revenue from thieves hacking into pipelines in operations known as “bunkering”.
The oil is sold abroad as crude or refined for the local market. “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on August 15, 2012, took possession of an illegal oil bunkering vessel suspected to be carrying 300 metric tonnes of illegally refined … diesel,” an EFCC statement said. It said the boat had been chased by authorities last week but had escaped, although one of its crew had died when he fell over the side.
Officials later tracked it and seized it. The captain of the ship escaped, it added. Militancy in the swamps and creeks of the Niger Delta has calmed down since the last decade – when attacks on oil installations at times shut down up to half of Nigeria’s output – owing to an amnesty in 2009.