HomeNewsBriefColombia-Venezuela Border Closure Contributes to Oil Theft
BRIEF

Colombia-Venezuela Border Closure Contributes to Oil Theft

COLOMBIA / 17 NOV 2015 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

Fuel theft is reportedly on the rise in Colombia in part due to the recent border crisis with Venezuela, pushing criminal groups to seek new sources of cheap gasoline, an essential ingredient in cocaine production.

Colombia's state-owned oil company Ecopetrol has lost $8.5 million over the last five years due to the theft of oil from pipelines, reported America Economica.

Most affected is the TransAndean pipeline running between the southwestern departments of Putumayo and Nariño. Ecopetrol says of the 160,251 barrels of oil stolen in the past year, 92 percent have come from this pipeline.

However, a rapid rise in oil theft in the eastern department of Norte de Santander -- which borders Venezuela -- has also been documented in 2015. Here, in a region known as Catatumbo, Ecopetrol official Alvaro Salcedo has said that 4,700 barrels of crude oil are now lost daily from the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline, reported RCN Radio.

InSight Crime Analysis

During recent fieldwork in the Colombia-Venezuela border region, InSight Crime spoke with an Ecopetrol official from Norte de Santander, who said that the primary perpetrators of illegal taps of the Caño Limon-Coveñas pipeline in Catatumbo are the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Popular Liberation Army (EPL). The quantity of oil stolen daily from this pipeline is equivalent to almost $10,000, the official said. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Oil Theft

Once stolen, each barrel of oil is then distilled in makeshift refineries, producing approximately 10 gallons of gasoline each, the official said. The majority of this gasoline goes towards the processing of coca base, which is then further refined to make cocaine.

The official also said that Ecopetrol registered a "considerable increase" in oil taps following the recent closures of border crossings between Colombia and Venezuela. Previously, Colombian drug producers could easily obtain cheap gasoline from neighboring Venezuela, where artificially reduced fuel prices created a thriving cross-border contraband trade. However, the border shutdown in August-September 2015 limited contraband flows, pushing producers of coca base to increasingly rely on the siphoning of Ecopetrol pipelines.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CHINA AND CRIME / 1 MAR 2017

The Chinese government has executed a Colombian citizen for drug trafficking, amid indications that Colombia's role in the internal drug…

COLOMBIA / 30 JUL 2013

Authorities have dismantled a band allegedly contracted by the FARC to plant explosive devices in Bogota shops in exchange for…

COLOMBIA / 3 OCT 2013

Authorities in Colombia have dismantled an organization dedicated to providing precursor chemicals to Mexican cartels, illustrating how tightening restrictions on…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…