YENAGOA, Nigeria, June 29 Nigerian authorities
said on Friday they had arrested the leader of a network of
crude oil thieves in the Niger Delta responsible for several
pipeline bombings against oil majors including Shell
Nigeria is the world's eighth biggest exporter of crude oil
but thieves siphon off around a fifth of its output by drilling
into pipelines, blasting them open or diverting crude at loading
stations, sometimes with the connivance of security forces.
The operations, called bunkering, cost Nigeria's government
nearly a fifth of its revenue each year, Finance Minister Ngozi
Okonjo-Iweala has said. It is also a major cause of oil spills
that often wreck the delta's wetlands environment.
The Nigerian military paraded Seiyifa Gbereke, or General
Cairo as he was nicknamed, in front of the media, where he
confessed to the crimes. There was no independent confirmation
of his story told in captivity.
"He led a gang of eight to destroy Agip pipelines and Shell
ones around various communities," in the Niger Delta, security
forces spokesman for Yenagoa state Lieutenant Colonel Onyema
Nwachukwu told journalists.
The delta is a region of swamps and labyrinthine creeks at
the heart of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry that has for
decades been plagued by insecurity.
An amnesty in 2009 sharply reduced militancy but criminal
gangs tapping oil pipelines is a growing problem.
Royal Dutch Shell estimates that bunkering siphons
at least 150,000 barrels of oil per day from Nigeria's
(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by