Real Heist Stories: The Great Oil Heist

Corruption & Great as Murderers in Nigeria?

Have you ever heard or read about the Great Oil Heist? If your answer is “yes,” are you sure the one you heard about was the actual crime that took place? And if it is a “no,” you must be interested if you are here. 

Although big heists are always on the front page of news and are known by many people, they tend to lose relevance, and soon enough, people just forget about them to the point of not even knowing that some of their favorite films are based on them. 

In our case, despite our fascination always mentioned about crimes and heists, we usually forget a couple as well. The Great Oil Heist is actually one of those we had missed for quite some time since it boomed when it happened, but with the years, despite it happening quite recently, people just seemed to be immersed in other things. 

However, today we decided it was enough and thought, “What about reviewing it as it should?” 

Thus, here we are, with an article about the Great Oil Heist and how everything happened from the time it was planned to where the precious items (or maybe money) are today. 

Learning About the Heist

As much as we would like to share very specific details about the heist, we will owe you some details. 

However, we are able to provide the basics, detailed aspects of how it happened, and how everything concluded. 

In the world, oil and money are the synonyms of greed when it comes to governments or just people overall, which is why they are usually (if not always) the main reasons for people committing heists. 

Now, what if we tell you that instead of one, both are involved in this crime?

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The Great Oil Heist of 2011 is the epitome of humans’ greed, and although it was a big deal, you would be surprised by how little coverage it got for one reason in particular: Where it took place and who is affected.

One describes it as an epic fraud in which oil giants Shell, Eni, and others became embroiled in a $1.1 billion global scam. This heist involved bribery and money laundering. It also led to the near-bankruptcy of an entire African nation.

You would think that it would get a lot more attention in this regard. Global Witness, a sustainable social justice organization, reported in a very disappointing 2020 post that only a few hundred people attended their virtual conference covering the alleged theft and corrupt bureaucracy of multibillion. 

Usually, African nations are victims of these types of heists and robberies very often, which doesn’t apply as an excuse but leaves something obvious to even children: People don’t seem to care about them as long as they get their money. 

This is why the Great Oil Heist shows how governments and people don’t really care about what happens to others, and it is Earth-altering events that involve both corporate and government power that can slip through the cracks.

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Building a Crime: How Did the Heist Occur?

It is very hard to understand how such much money was robbed from a country. However, when you consider that Nigeria is the country called the “Poverty Capital of the World,” according to many magazines and news, you can take the hint this isn’t the only billionaire heists that have taken place in recent years. 

We know we mentioned a few details about this, but we can at least tell you a bit of how this heist was able to come through.

According to Global Witness, it reports that the criminals and parties involved allegedly set up a drilling contract through a convicted money-launderer and then proceeded to embezzle enormous sums of money. 

The company Shell and its representatives claim that the deal was legal and call it a “settlement.” However, emails leaked by Shell revealed shocking truths: The money was allegedly used to fund the personal pockets of European oil rig enthusiasts. 

Big oil then allegedly spent millions on Nigerian politicians, who supposedly wanted to bankrupt their own people. 

In specific, the ENI and Shell subsidiaries paid $1.1 billion to the Nigerian government in 2011 for an offshore block that had 9 billion barrels of oil reserves; this became one of the biggest heists we have discussed so far. 

The exact same amount was transferred to an account earmarked by Malabu Oil & Gas. This anonymous shell company’s hidden owner was Dan Etete. Etete secretly granted the oil block to himself in 1998 while he was Nigeria’s petroleum minister. 

After many legal battles, the oil blocks were taken from Malabu Oil & Gas. They were then awarded to Shell and ENI. These companies then paid the money directly to the Nigerian government. 

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This was a series of greed-driven events, and it appears that the fraud was perpetrated by the president of Nigeria, who purportedly pocketed profits and purchased luxury items, with 5 million Nigerians on the verge of starvation.

Following the reports, the stolen money amounts to twice Nigeria’s annual GDP. 

The Case Today: Investigation & Consequences

Now, what about the official investigation? Because there must be one, right? By the time of writing this article, the investigation into the scandal is currently ongoing, officially known as OPL 245.

There aren’t many details disclosed of the other specific parties involved and how the heist took place, considering the sum of money involved with the number of barrels stolen. 

What people care about the most (in terms of the investigation) is that this is an extremely devastating blow considering Nigeria’s current state of poverty. 

First, you must know the money went to Europe’s large oil conglomerates, which is quite obvious when you follow the origins of the parties involved and dive a bit more into the reports about the heist. 

However, the big issue with the crime isn’t the fact of the $1.1 billion, although it is a lot of money lost in oil reserves, but rather the consequences. 

This destitute region (Nigeria) will lose an estimated $6 billion in revenue due to the heist and will extremely reduce the budget for several areas in the country that are already being unattended. 

In specific, the $1 billion could have been used for the complete immunization of every child in Nigeria under 5. 

Although more companies and parties are involved, both Shell and ENI are the subject of corruption investigations in Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK, which means that these countries have a specific eye on the case. 

Unfortunately, all this means not a single penny of the money has been recovered, and even less the oil reserves and barrels involved.

Instead, there are reports that the corrupt politicians from Nigeria spent a great deal of what is supposed to be the money of this heist on luxury items and personal expenses. 

The corruption in Africa is reaching other levels in the last decade, and countries and other nations are worried about how this will end up killing thousands if not millions more in the countries.

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4 Facts About The Great Oil Heist

  • The main sum stolen was enough to pay 6 million teachers for their services as the original plan for the money was estimated.
  • According to recent reports, although $6 billion are estimated as the long-term consequences, more money can be involved.
  • This isn’t the first time Shell and ENI are involved in a heist with billions at stake.
  • The corruption in Nigeria leads to billions lost to the country every year, not only this one in particular.

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Written by Dame Cash

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