Nigeria: June 15, 2004


The theft of oil in the Delta region is a big business. Currently, about 100,000 barrels a day are taken by gangs that simply punch a hole in one of the pipelines, fill up barrels or tanker trucks, and sell the oil to brokers for $22 a barrel. That's $800 million a year going to tribe based gangs. But the money is spread around among a population of several million people in the areas where most of the oil is stolen. The gangs buy consumer and luxury goods, weapons, vehicles and boats. The current military offensive against the gangs is a government attempt to get on top of the situation before the gangs become the de facto government in many areas. There's also a problem with gangs fighting each other over access to areas, crossed by pipelines, that are less frequently patrolled by the police.


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