The Oil & Gas Journal on 16th April carried an article saying that at a recent conference in Washington speakers agreed that while stopping crude oil and product thefts may not seem to be a high priority in fighting global maritime crime, but they need to be addressed more aggressively because they can finance narcotic smuggling, human trafficking, and other destructive criminal enterprises. They said the problem extends beyond pirates boarding tankers and holding the cargo and crew for ransom. Local fishermen now sell food for stolen fuel, thieves move products bought under a government subsidy in one country into another for sale at market prices, and influential individuals fraudulently obtain offshore oil licences for resale to producers at much higher prices. The forum was hosted by the Atlantic Council, and discussed its report: Oil on the Water: Illicit Hydrocarbon Activity in the Maritime Domain.
In the report the authors identify several types of hydrocarbons crime, including small-scale smuggling of subsidised fuel across borders, the hijacking of oil tankers to steal or ransom their cargo, and government corruption in the issuance of drilling licenses. The effects of oil theft are severe, as states lose critical revenues and suffer from government corruption. In many cases, oil theft is also linked with other crimes, most notably drug and human trafficking. To more effectively combat hydrocarbons crime, the authors make a number of recommendations regarding issues such as law enforcement agencies and approaches, legal frameworks, and the effective use of technology. The report is available at –