Border Checkpoints and the Politics of Crude Oil Theft and Petrol Smuggling along the Nigeria-Benin Republic Corridor in West Africa


The politics of crude oil theft and petrol smuggling contribute significantly to the porosity of border checkpoints along the Nigeria-Benin Republic corridor in West Africa. An estimated 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day are lost, and about 15.64 million litres of petrol are smuggled out of Nigeria daily to other countries in West Africa and beyond. However, there is a lack of accurate data, including the amount of crude oil and petroleum products that are stolen and smuggled, how they are smuggled, and how illicit oil transactions are conducted. The mixing of legal commercial operations with illegal oil theft, petrol smuggling, and fraud obscures many oil theft crimes. These unlawful activities by oil cartels, mainly the elite and border security agents, have caused a monumental deficit in oil production and undermined border security in Nigeria over the years. Despite the existence of border checkpoints and state agents—police, customs, immigration, and soldiers—domestic checkpoints are rarely carried out with effective control at the border. Oil theft and petrol smuggling are often regarded as minor crimes compared to kidnapping and terrorism. However, oil theft and petrol smuggling, as acts of opportunity, tend to evolve into organised crime if left uninvestigated and unchecked. Adopting anomie and elite theory and using qualitative data, this study explores the politics of crude oil theft and petrol smuggling along the Nigeria-Benin Republic corridor. The study will reveal the politics of crude oil thefts and petrol smuggling in Nigeria. Keywords: Border checkpoints, Crude oil theft, petrol smuggling, Elite corruption, Nigeria-Benin Republic corridor—West Africa.

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 Presented in Session 221. State Violence and Illegal Markets