The global illegal oil market – illegal extraction of black gold, oil piracy, fuel theft and its shadow sales – is estimated at $ 133 billion a year. The main players here are the drug cartels and illegal paramilitary groups of various kinds. How does the shadow oil industry – in the material RIA Novosti.
Among the commodity markets, oil is the largest, with an annual volume approaching $ 500 billion. To legal sales worth adding and shadow – at 133 billion.
Incidentally, this is more than the market capitalization of oil giant British Petroleum (111 billion dollars) or the entire economy of such an oil state as Kuwait (110 billion).
The black market for oil completely repeats the structure of the official oil industry: production, transportation, processing, sale. True, there is a specificity.
In the first place – in mining. The legal production is led by Saudi Arabia, the United States and Russia, in the shadow industry – Mexico, Nigeria and Iraq.
The point is not only that everyone knows the world leaders of the official oil industry, and their counterparts from the shadow sector are known only to law enforcement officers, since these are Mexican drug cartels, Nigerian and Kurdish separatists, and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.
Under the prey here refers to something quite different. In the official industry, this is drilling and pumping oil from fields. In the shadow – for example, in Mexico – first of all, the “milking” of oil pipelines through illegal tie-ins.
With today’s value of black gold, one tie-in allows you to pump out a hundred thousand dollars out of a pipe in ten minutes. Profit is higher than even from the sale of drugs.
Not surprisingly, the state-owned company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) reveals ten to fifteen new tie-ins per day. According to Mexican media, pipelines are “a business of billions of pesos, practiced both by professionals and amateurs wherever Pemex pipelines operate.”
As a result, in the pipeline section between the cities of Ciudad-Madero and Cadereyt, over the past five years, about 2.7 million barrels of oil totaling almost $ 300 million were stolen via tie-ins.
In total, approximately 23,500 barrels worth over a half million dollars flow through the illegally embedded drain valves from Mexican pipelines.
Inserting cranes into an existing pipeline under high pressure requires highly qualified specialists and expensive equipment. Therefore, in the first roles in this business are rich Mexican drug cartels.
However, they are not limited to frames. Another common way of shadow oil production in Mexico is attacks on fuel trucks. In the Mexican state of Tabasco, about a dozen of such attacks are recorded every month.
Machines often turn over, which leads to oil spills and fires, people die. This happened in March 2016: the tanker overturned, the locals rushed to it with canisters to collect spill fuel. Random spark, fire – killing more than twenty people, including children.
In the Mexican shadow oil market, the dominant position is occupied by the Zetas drug cartel, organized in the late 1990s by former military personnel of the Mexican Special Forces.
In addition to trafficking in drugs, weapons, people, Zetas controls the “milking” of oil pipelines in the northern Mexican states, intercepts tank trucks and smuggles in the United States, where the stolen fuel is twice as cheap as the market price.
According to estimates by Mexican experts, the cartel controls about 40% of the shadow fuel market in Mexico, earning more than $ 400 million a year from this.
The Jarisco New Generation drug cartel accounts for about 22% of the black oil market, with a turnover of more than $ 210 million a year.
In late October, the US government announced a record reward of ten million dollars for information about the leader of this cartel, Nemesio Cervantes, nicknamed El Mencho.
The unprecedented amount for the head of El Mencho is explained by the war that Jalisco New Generation has unleashed with the Sinaloa drug cartel for control of Tijuana. This city on the very border with the United States serves as a gateway for smuggling all kinds of contraband, first and foremost drugs, into the States from Mexico.
Jalisco New Generation, under the leadership of El Mencho, seeks to expand the oil business of illegal business, increasing the volume of smuggling of black gold. However, Sinaloa, which specializes in drug trafficking and occupies very modest positions in the shadow oil industry (about six percent of the market), actively discourages this.
The result of differences in the business strategies of the two drug cartels is the war in Tijuana, which has already claimed more than two thousand lives this year.
In July, 253 people were killed in the city, in August – 211, in September – 214.
Americans hope that the arrest of El Mencho, if not put an end to this bloodshed, then at least reduce the number of victims.
Since separatists are active in the oil-producing areas of Nigeria, the entire industry infrastructure — from drilling rigs to pipelines and oil storages — is regularly attacked by armed forces.
Nigerian “black oil workers” also practice tapping into oil pipelines. True, unlike the Mexican drug cartels, they cannot afford qualified specialists and expensive equipment. They act easier, though not less efficiently.
Usually they give a bribe to the operator of the pipeline, which stops the pumping of oil through the pipe for the time needed for tie-in.
There is even a standard tariff for such a service – six thousand dollars, which is half the annual income of the average Nigerian.
Sometimes “oilmen” just blow up the pipeline. Pumping stops, and it is possible to cut the drain valve somewhere far away from the explosion site without any hassle.
According to the estimates of the Nigerian National Oil Company, only from the pipeline between the cities of Lagos and Ilorin are thus annually stolen oil worth more than $ 300 million.
If Mexican drug cartels seize oil tankers, then Nigerian “oilmen” are engaged in banal piracy, attacking tankers in the Gulf of Guinea.
Usually the crew is locked in the hold, and the oil is loaded onto small vessels transporting fuel to neighboring countries.
Experts estimate the Atlantic Council, 80% of the fuel needs of the state of Benin today is covered by oil stolen by “black oil” in neighboring Nigeria.
Knowledgeable people claim that the armada of these small ships is owned by high-ranking officials of the Nigerian National Security Service. They also command pirates and organize attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Guinea.
Iraqi Kurds, unbeknownst to Baghdad, extracting oil on their land using traditional methods and smuggling it to Turkey, against the background of their Mexican and Nigerian counterparts in the shadow oil business, look like dull traditionalists and practically law-abiding citizens. Although they occupy the third place in the world in terms of the volume of illegal operations with black gold.
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