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Pictures | Tue Jan 15, 2013 | 7:38am EST

Nigeria's oil thieves say government leaves them no choice

Ebiowei, 48, carries an empty oil container on his head to a place where it would be filled with refined fuel at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. Locals in the industry say workers can earn $50 to $60 a day. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Ebiowei, 48, carries an empty oil container on his head to a place where it would be filled with refined fuel at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. Locals in the industry say workers can earn...more

Ebiowei, 48, carries an empty oil container on his head to a place where it would be filled with refined fuel at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. Locals in the industry say workers can earn $50 to $60 a day. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A man collects polluted water at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man collects polluted water at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man collects polluted water at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A man named Godswill works at an illegal oil refinery site, where steam rises from pipes carrying refined oil from a burner into broken containers, near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man named Godswill works at an illegal oil refinery site, where steam rises from pipes carrying refined oil from a burner into broken containers, near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man named Godswill works at an illegal oil refinery site, where steam rises from pipes carrying refined oil from a burner into broken containers, near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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Plates used by labourers lie on the ground at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Plates used by labourers lie on the ground at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Plates used by labourers lie on the ground at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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Ebiowei, 48, carries refined oil in buckets at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Ebiowei, 48, carries refined oil in buckets at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Ebiowei, 48, carries refined oil in buckets at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A man named Godswill collects crude oil from a mini storage unit filled with oil, which is waiting to be refined at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man named Godswill collects crude oil from a mini storage unit filled with oil, which is waiting to be refined at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man named Godswill collects crude oil from a mini storage unit filled with oil, which is waiting to be refined at an illegal refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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Men work at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Men work at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Men work at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A passenger speedboat churns up the water, while in the background an illegal oil refinery is left burning after a military chase had occurred earlier in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A passenger speedboat churns up the water, while in the background an illegal oil refinery is left burning after a military chase had occurred earlier in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012....more

A passenger speedboat churns up the water, while in the background an illegal oil refinery is left burning after a military chase had occurred earlier in a windy creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A warning sign belonging to the company Royal Dutch Shell is seen along the Nembe creek in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 2, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A warning sign belonging to the company Royal Dutch Shell is seen along the Nembe creek in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 2, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A warning sign belonging to the company Royal Dutch Shell is seen along the Nembe creek in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 2, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A young woman named Akpomene is pictured coated in oil stains as she sits in a canoe near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A young woman named Akpomene is pictured coated in oil stains as she sits in a canoe near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A young woman named Akpomene is pictured coated in oil stains as she sits in a canoe near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A crude oil refinery worker stands in front of a locally made burner in an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A crude oil refinery worker stands in front of a locally made burner in an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A crude oil refinery worker stands in front of a locally made burner in an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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Refinery workers are reflected in polluted stagnant water at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Refinery workers are reflected in polluted stagnant water at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Refinery workers are reflected in polluted stagnant water at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A worker pours crude oil into a locally made burner using a funnel at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 25, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A worker pours crude oil into a locally made burner using a funnel at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 25, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A worker pours crude oil into a locally made burner using a funnel at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 25, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A man working at an illegal oil refinery site pours oil under a locally made burner to keep the fire going, near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man working at an illegal oil refinery site pours oil under a locally made burner to keep the fire going, near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man working at an illegal oil refinery site pours oil under a locally made burner to keep the fire going, near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A locally made boat containing crude oil is manned through a creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A locally made boat containing crude oil is manned through a creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A locally made boat containing crude oil is manned through a creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A man and his son walk through polluted farmland in the Kalaba community in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man and his son walk through polluted farmland in the Kalaba community in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man and his son walk through polluted farmland in the Kalaba community in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinery is burnt after a military chase in a creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinery is burnt after a military chase in a creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Smoke rises as an illegal oil refinery is burnt after a military chase in a creek near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa December 6, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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Ebiowei, 48, pours water to reduce the intensity of the fire in a locally made burner at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Ebiowei, 48, pours water to reduce the intensity of the fire in a locally made burner at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Ebiowei, 48, pours water to reduce the intensity of the fire in a locally made burner at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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Ebiowei, 48, drags a hose used to help siphon crude oil in an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Ebiowei, 48, drags a hose used to help siphon crude oil in an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Ebiowei, 48, drags a hose used to help siphon crude oil in an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
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