Abuja - Nigeria has lifted an embargo banning 113 oil tankers from loading crude and gas from Africa's largest producer, state-run oil firm Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said Thursday.
The NNPC stated it lifted the embargo after obtaining a "guarantee that nominated vessels, pending the outcome of detailed investigation, are unencumbered and would not be utilized for any illegal activity whatsoever."
It added the government has set up a committee to investigate the vessels' past activities as Abuja seeks to clamp down on the theft of crude from sabotaged pipelines and black market dealing in illegally refined oil products.
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The illicit business is estimated to cost the country some $6 billion (5.3 billion euros) a year in revenue.
The NNPC said last week it would deploy drones to monitor the tankers' movement.
"The inter-agency committee will appraise the culpability or otherwise of each of the vessels in the time past and advise appropriately," the NNPC said, adding it would seek support from countries receiving the stolen cargoes.
Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, accounting for a daily output of two million barrels.
Oil accounts for more than 90 percent of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings.