Nigeria police arrested two UK citizens and 10 local nationals Friday on charges of trying to bribe a military officer to facilitate oil theft, Reuters reported.
Oil thefts are estimated to cost Nigeria between 100,000 and 250,000 barrels a day of crude.
The thieves, usually from armed gangs, are called ‘bunkerers.”
Two bunkerers, both Nigerians, offered a police officer $6,500 to protect them while they hacked into a pipeline and connected a hose to siphon crude out onto a waiting boat, Reuters said.
“The suspects were immediately arrested for attempting to bribe the brigade commander for economic sabotage,” a police spokesperson said.
A follow-up operation led to the arrest of two Britons and another eight Nigerians.
Nigeria is Africa’s top crude oil exporter. But exports in May could fall to their lowest since records began in 2009 because of the thefts, Reuters said.
Analysts said the main buyers of the stolen crude are gangs in the Balkans and refiners in Singapore, according to Reuters.