May 29 - While the Nigerian government tries to push through legislation to attract foreign oil investors, the army is carrying out raids to stamp out the illicit aspect of the trade but the country has little hope of ending corruption. Joanne Nicholson reports.
They take it by boat, and they're seemingly very open about it. These men in Nigeria are stealing oil by tapping into pipelines. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PETER, OWNER OF ILLEGAL OIL REFINERY, SAYING: "On a normal day we get at least ten drums of diesel." It's estimated the country is losing around a fifth of its revenues through oil theft in the Niger Delta. And an amnesty to end a conflict here in 2009 over the distribution of oil wealth hasn't deterred the illegal traders. A new oil law is in the pipeline. But the government still won't have to declare how much it pumps or the payments it gets from firms. With corruption rife in Nigeria this lack of transparency has angered many. These men have been arrested by the army which has carried out several raids on illegal refineries. They say virtually every village in the Niger Delta is involved. (SOUNDBITE (English) LIEUTENANT COLONEL ONYEMA NWACHUKWU, MILITARY SPOKESMAN, SAYING: "There is a serious syndicated effort operating within this region and the illicit activities are having a negative impact on our economy." Nigeria's biggest player Royal Dutch Shell has estimated that every year thieves steal more than 7 percent of its 2 million barrells. Tony Attah is Vice-President of Corporate Affairs for Shell Sub-Saharan. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TONY ATTAH, SAYING: "There is strong economy linkage from the big players and today the estimate we have seen is more than 150,000 barrel per day, that comes almost 150 million dollars a day and five billion dollars a year." Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, is fast-tracking the new Petroleum Industry Bill so it can become law as soon as possible But many fear it won't prevent Peter and other oil thieves carrying on their illicit trade. Joanne Nicholson, Reuters