Nigerian regulator accuses Exxon of stealing oil from terminal.

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In a letter to the petroleum ministry obtained by Reuters, Nigeria’s downstream oil regulator accused ExxonMobil Corp (XOM.N) of illegally lifting petroleum products from an offshore port.

In an email, Exxon refuted the accusation, saying its “operations are carried out in full compliance with the law.”

The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) wrote that Barumk Gas, a cargo vessel, was removing butane from the ExxonMobil-controlled Bonny River Terminal without its “authorization or participation.”

The regulator has the only key to the oil valve, and companies must be accompanied by a regulator to tap the oil.

“The actions of ExxonMobil and Barumk Gas constitute economic sabotage, criminal damage and theft of Nigeria’s national resources,” NMDPRA Chief Executive Farouk Ahmed wrote on June 8.

He advised stopping Barumk Gas from sailing until an investigation.

Refinitiv data indicates Barumk Gas was fully loaded at Bonny Terminal. The Petroleum Ministry and NMDPRA declined to comment.

After authorities accused their supertanker of unlawfully cruising in Nigerian waters, a Nigerian court charged 26 men with conspiracy to commit a maritime offense and attempt to illegally trade in crude oil in November 2018. Nigerian oil majors have stopped production due to illegal pipeline tapping.

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