Togo Triangle

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The Togo Triangle is an offshore market for stolen oil off the coast of Nigeria and Togo near the Niger Delta. The Triangle has been compared to an "open-air drug market" for trade in illegal crude oil, noted for the presence of pirates. [1] [2]

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The economy of Nigeria is a middle-income, mixed economy and emerging market with expanding manufacturing, financial, service, communications, technology, and entertainment sectors. It is ranked as the 31st-largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP, the largest in Africa and the 27th-largest in terms of purchasing power parity.

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The economy of Togo has struggled greatly. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks it as the tenth poorest country in the world, with development undercut by political instability, lowered commodity prices, and external debts. While industry and services play a role, the economy is dependent on subsistence agriculture, with industrialization and regional banking suffering major setbacks.

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From the mid-1980s to September 2003, the inflation adjusted price of a barrel of crude oil on NYMEX was generally under $25/barrel. Then, during 2004, the price rose above $40, and then $60. A series of events led the price to exceed $60 by August 11, 2005, leading to a record-speed hike that reached $75 by the middle of 2006. Prices then dropped back to $60/barrel by the early part of 2007 before rising steeply again to $92/barrel by October 2007, and $99.29/barrel for December futures in New York on November 21, 2007. Throughout the first half of 2008, oil regularly reached record high prices. Prices on June 27, 2008, touched $141.71/barrel, for August delivery in the New York Mercantile Exchange, amid Libya's threat to cut output, and OPEC's president predicted prices may reach $170 by the Northern summer. The highest recorded price per barrel maximum of $147.02 was reached on July 11, 2008. After falling below $100 in the late summer of 2008, prices rose again in late September. On September 22, oil rose over $25 to $130 before settling again to $120.92, marking a record one-day gain of $16.37. Electronic crude oil trading was temporarily halted by NYMEX when the daily price rise limit of $10 was reached, but the limit was reset seconds later and trading resumed. By October 16, prices had fallen again to below $70, and on November 6 oil closed below $60. Then in 2009, prices went slightly higher, although not to the extent of the 2005–2007 crisis, exceeding $100 in 2011 and most of 2012. Since late 2013 the oil price has fallen below the $100 mark, plummeting below the $50 mark one year later.

On May 1, 2010, a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in the state of Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, spilled more than a million gallons into the delta and contributed to the major environmental issues in the Niger Delta. The spill had occurred at an Exxon platform some 20–25 miles (32–40 km) offshore which feeds the Qua Iboe oil export terminal. Exxon Mobil declared force majeure on Qua Iboe oil shipments due to the pipeline damage. The leakage in the Qua Iboe oil field discharged about 232 barrels of crude into the Atlantic Ocean contaminating the waters and coastal settlements in the predominantly fishing communities along Akwa Ibom and Cross River.

The Uganda–Kenya Crude Oil Pipeline (UKCOP) was a proposed pipeline to transport crude oil from Uganda's oil fields in the Northern and Western Regions to the Kenyan port of Lamu on the Indian Ocean. Along the way, the pipeline would have picked up more crude oil from the South Lokichar Basin and other oil fields in northwestern Kenya and delivered it to Lamu for export. South Sudan had also planned to construct a pipeline from its Unity State, linking to the UKCOP as an alternative to its only current oil export route through Port Sudan in its northern neighbor Sudan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Port Harcourt Refining Company</span> Crude oil refinery of Nigeria

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Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) is a 97 kilometre, 150,000 barrels of oil per day pipeline constructed by Royal Dutch Shell plc and situated in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. "The Trunk Line is one of Nigeria's major oil transportation arteries that evacuate crude from the Niger Delta to the Atlantic coast for export." It is owned by Aiteo Group, which recently purchased it as part of the related facilities of the prolific oil bloc OML29 from Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC. By March 2015, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell), completed the assignment of its interest in OML29 and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line to Aiteo Eastern E&P Company Limited, a subsidiary of Aiteo Group. The other joint venture partners, Total E&P Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited also assigned their interests of 10% and 5% respectively in the lease, ultimately giving Aiteo Eastern E&P Company Limited a 45% interest in OML29 and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line.

Oil theft in Nigeria is considered to be the illegal appropriation of crude or refined oil products from the pipelines of multinational oil companies. Oil theft in Nigeria is facilitated by the pragmatic co-operation between security forces, militia organizations, the local population, and oil company employees who use a variety of methods to steal oil from the multinational oil corporations that are stationed within the country. Currently, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Equinor, Shell, and Agip are the five largest multinational oil companies present in Nigeria. Due to the lack of federal oversight and a large network of corruption, oil theft is primarily cellular rather than hierarchical and requires frequent collaboration between a variety of random players depending on the level of oil theft being committed. Each group maintains a specific role in the oil theft trade in Nigeria. These key players use methods such as hot-tapping and cold-tapping to perform oil bunkering and steal thousands of barrels of oil per day from established oil pipelines. In addition to stealing oil from the pipelines, oil theft can also occur during the transportation of the crude oil product to the oil shipping terminals for export.

As a practice of piracy, petro-piracy, also sometimes called oil piracy or petrol piracy, is defined as “illegal taking of oil after vessel hijacks, which are sometimes executed with the use of motorships” with huge potential financial rewards. Petro-piracy is mostly a practice that is connected to and originates from piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, but examples of petro-piracy outside of the Gulf of Guinea is not uncommon. At least since 2008, the Gulf of Guinea has been home to pirates practicing petro-piracy by targeting the region's extensive oil industry. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has risen in the last years to become the hot spot of piracy globally with 76 actual and attempted attacks, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). Most of these attacks in the Gulf of Guinea take place in inland or territorial waters, but recently pirates have been proven to venture further out to sea, e.g. crew members were kidnapped from the tanker David B. 220 nautical miles outside of Benin. Pirates most often targets vessels carrying oil products and kidnappings of crew for ransom. IMB reports that countries in the Gulf of Guinea, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Togo, Congo, and, especially, Nigeria, have experienced petro-piracy and kidnappings of crew as the most common trends of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Piracy networks in Nigeria</span>

Piracy network in Nigeria refers to the organisation of actors involved in the sophisticated, complex piracy activities: piracy kidnappings and petro-piracy. The most organised piracy activities in the Gulf of Guinea takes place in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. A large number of both non-state and formal state actors are involved in a piracy operation, indicating a vast social network. As revealed by the arrested pirate Bless Nube “we do not work in isolation. We have a network of ministries’ workers. What they do is to give us information on the location and content of the vessels to be hijacked. After furnishing us with the information, they would make part payment, and after the hijack, they would pay us the balance.” Pirate groups draw on the pirate network to gain access to actors who provide security, economic resources, and support to pirate operations. This includes government officials, businesspeople, armed groups, and transnational mafia.


  1. Smith, Robert; Simon, Julia (30 October 2014). "How To Steal A Million Barrels Of Oil". Planet Money . NPR. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  2. Mayah, Emmanuel (2 June 2014). "Where stolen Nigerian crude oil is sold". Probe. Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 1 November 2014.