Rajasthan Police arrested gang involved in stealing crude oil

Praveen Samuel

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Rajasthan Police have broken a criminal syndicate accused of smuggling more than 5 crore litres of crude oil inside water tankers from a Cairn India oilfield, an official said on July 23, 2017. The theft at India’s largest onshore went undetected for nearly six years until the Rajasthan Police arrested 25 people this week for involvement in the sophisticated smuggling network. Approximately US Dollar 7.75 million (Rs.50 crore) worth of oil could have been stolen in total from the oilfield run by a subsidiary of British mining giant Vedanta Resources. More than 75 people, many drivers and contractors working at the oil field, are still wanted in connection with the robbery, said Barmer District Police Chief Mr. Gangandeep Singla.The drivers were authorized to carry water — a byproduct in oil exploration — from exploration sites for dumping but some of the tankers were filled with crude instead. According to the police the drivers were disabling their GPS devices to avoid tracking and detection. More than 30 trucks have been seized, with numbers likely to grow. The oil was sold to two small factory owners nearby, who stockpiled the crude in underground tanks before selling it on to customers across India. The stolen oil was used in road construction and diesel production. In February 2017, the Uttar Pradesh Police had arrested nearly a dozen people accused of stealing $15.5 million worth of petroleum from a high pressure refinery pipeline in the State. The gang had purchased land adjacent to the refinery and dug a tunnel to tap the pipeline owned by state-run Hindustan Petroleum. India imports nearly 82% of its crude oil to meet its energy requirements.

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