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Thieves blamed for Nigerian oil decline

July 12, 2013 at 6:58 AM

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 12 (UPI) -- Thieves are responsible for the loss of nearly 12 million barrels of crude oil from Nigerian pipeline systems from 2009 to 2012, a Nigerian oil company said.

Saboteurs and vandals have targeted oil pipelines in the southern Niger Delta region of oil-rich Nigeria. Oil companies working in the region said they have lost significant amounts of crude oil to theft.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. said 11.7 million barrels of crude oil were stolen during the three-year period, the Platts news service reported Thursday. NNPC said theft amounted to a loss of $2.73 billion.

NNPC was forced to explain the losses to a parliamentary panel reviewing the nation's oil industry.

The Nigerian government estimates crude oil production stands at an annual average of 2.06 million barrels per day. The statistical arm of the U.S. Energy Department reports crude oil production from Nigeria has declined steadily since the 1980s.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its July report oil production from member state Nigeria was down 3.5 percent from May to 1.8 million barrels per day for June.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed to take the issue of oil theft seriously.

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