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Nigeria's stolen oil, the military and a man named Government

A network of illegal oil pipelines being unearthed in Nigeria's Niger Delta region has revealed the extent of oil theft in the country, astounding even the most cynical about Nigeria's obscure but hugely lucrative oil industry.

In Delta state, thieves built their own 4km- (2.5 mile) long pipeline through the heavily guarded creeks to the Atlantic Ocean. There, barges and vessels blatantly loaded the stolen oil from a 24-foot rig visible from miles on the open waters.

"It was a professional job," said the head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, wading through the swamps as he retraced the slick path during a televised visit to the scene.

Crude oil is Nigeria's main export but production, and revenue, has been dwindling for years because of thieves, authorities say. Oil production fell from 2.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to just over a million in July 2022, according to the regulator.

Authorities say more than $3.3bn (£2.9bn) has been lost to crude oil theft since last year and at a time when other oil producers are having a petrodollars splurge, Nigeria can't even meet its production quota. And it is not that the country can afford to lose money to thieves, it is gripped by widespread poverty and heavily indebted.


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