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Illegal oil, product sea trade not a priority for governments: report

Washington, DC — Governments worldwide need to do more to combat illegal crude oil and refined product trade at sea, according to a report released Tuesday.

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"Most maritime law-enforcement agencies are already struggling to address other growing maritime-security threats, and hydrocarbons crime is often relegated to the bottom of state priorities," the report states.

The report, written by the consultancy I.R. Consilium and the Atlantic Council, estimates that illegal oil and fuel trade has a potential value of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Such trade currently includes piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, fuel smuggling in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia, and illegal ship-to-ship transfers off North Korea's coast and often funds trafficking, terrorism and other criminal activities, the report states.

"As oil prices continue to recover from the crash of 2014, such activity will only increase," the report states.

Off the coast of Venezuela, for example, the prevalence of smuggling and "an increasing degree of instability" could increase oil cargo hijackings, the report states.

The report recommends several efforts to counter illegal trade, including increased monitoring, global maritime-security cooperation and new technology.

"The marketplace for effective technology to address illicit hydrocarbons activity is growing," the report states.

--Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com
--Edited by Jeff Mower, newsdesk@spglobal.com