22 Filipinos arrested in Nigeria over oil theft
The men were arrested on their vessel as it left a channel late Friday and headed toward open water off the coast of the oil-producing state of Delta in southern Nigeria, regional army spokesman Lt. Col. Rabe Abubaker said Saturday.
The ship was carrying up to 13,400 tons (12,000 metric tonnes) of crude oil believed to have been stolen from a sabotaged pipeline further inland and transported to the vessel on barges, he said.
Twelve military boats were deployed to escort the vessel and its crew back to Warri - the Delta State capital. Abubaker said investigations into the incident were under way.
Theft of oil and other petroleum products is common in southern Nigeria, with ships hooking up to well heads and flow stations throughout the vast, swampy region to fill their holds with crude.
Analysts say about 10 percent of Nigeria's daily oil production is lost to theft, and it is a major source of funds for criminals and militants in the area. Security forces have also been accused of involvement in the practice, known as bunkering.
In July, 14 Filipinos were arrested on board their vessel and accused of stealing 168,000 tons (150,000 metric tonnes) of crude oil. They were subsequently released on bail.
The oil-producing Niger Delta region is also regularly subjected to attacks by militants who are agitating for a greater share of the petroleum funds to be spent developing their impoverished region.
Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, is routinely ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Source: The Morung Express
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