A flourishing global black market exists with about US$133 billion worth of fuels stolen or adulterated every year. These practices fund dangerous non-state actors such as the Islamic State, Mexican drug cartels, Italian Mafia, Eastern European criminal groups, Libyan militias, Nigerian rebels and more – and are a major global security concern.
With 90 percent of the world’s goods, 30 percent of which are total hydrocarbons, traded by sea, much of the illegal fuel trade is conducted on water. Two thirds of global daily oil exports are transported by sea, reports the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and a staggering 64 percent of international waters are areas beyond any national jurisdiction. Non-state actors offshore West Africa, Bangladesh or Indonesia take advantage of loopholes created by international law and the law of the sea.
The top five countries accused of oil trafficking – Nigeria, Mexico, Iraq, Russia, and Indonesia – are also producers. It is estimated that Nigeria alone loses US$1.5 billion a month due to pipeline tapping, illegal production and other sophisticated schemes. Nigeria is reported to have already lost around US$400 billion since its independence in 1960 due to theft or mismanagement in its oil sector. As with most commodities, the volume of oil smuggling is primarily linked to fluctuating prices. With climbing oil prices, the illicit trade is expected to increase.
Source: Yale Global