Nigeria thieves kill 3 state oil firm staff

2012-09-10 16:16

AFP (Shutterstock)

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Abuja - Oil thieves opened fire on a boat carrying workers for the state oil firm in Nigeria's petroleum-producing southeast over the weekend, killing three engineers, the company said on Monday.

The engineers had been dispatched to try to repair damage to a pipeline the thieves had hacked, a statement from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said.

The engineering crew managed to switch off oil going to the punctured pipeline but when they tried to get access to the site to assess the damage, they were fired upon, the statement added.

"Nigerians need to identify with the NNPC and recognise that it is our collective responsibility to work towards securing the nation's oil installations," spokesperson Fidel Pepple said.

Oil theft from Africa's top producer is a major complaint from oil companies and the finance ministry, which loses up to a fifth of its revenue from thieves breaking into pipelines in operations known as "bunkering".

Most of the oil is sold abroad by international criminal networks, although a small portion is refined in Nigeria.

Thanks to a political amnesty in 2009, militancy in the swamps and creeks of the Niger Delta has fallen dramatically since the last decade, when attacks on oil installations at times shut down up to half of Nigerian output.

But oil theft remains rampant and is on the rise, often leading to ruptured pipelines that spew oil into the delta's fragile wetlands environment.

Read more on:    niger  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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