Lagos - Nigeria's state-run oil company said Thursday it had recorded 3,700 cases of pipeline vandalism last year, leading to a revenue loss of some 60 billion naira ($299 million).
The sabotage of pipelines is a major problem in Africa's leading crude producer, resulting in massive oil theft, or so-called "bunkering" that costs the country billions in lost revenue.
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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said in its latest annual statistical bulletin that incidents of pipeline vandalism rose by 4.54 per cent in 2014, compared to the situation in the preceding year.
"A total of 3,732 line breaks was reported on NNPC pipelines out of which 3,700 was as a result of vandalism, while 32 cases were due to system deterioration," it said.
The NNPC added that the resulting loss of both crude oil and refined petroleum products that go through the pipelines had cost nearly 60 billion naira.
The state-run group said total oil production for 2014 stood at 798.5 million barrels, a marginal drop of 0.24 per cent from 2013.
Stolen crude and illegally refined oil products are regularly smuggled out and sold on the lucrative black market an illicit business that is estimated to cost the country some much-needed $6 billion (5.4 million euros) a year in revenue.
Major oil operators, including Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, have blamed repeated oil thefts and sabotage of key pipelines as the major cause of spills and pollution in the southern oil-producing region.