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EX-OPEC President Charged With Bribery In UK

Nigeria's former oil minister and OPEC president Diezani Alison-Madueke has been charged with bribery offenses she committed during her time as Nigeria's oil minister, the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) said on Tuesday. Alison-Madueke, 63, was first arrested in London in October 2015 but got out on bail. She is now set to appear in a London court on October 2, the NCA has said. Alison-Madueke made history as the first woman to be oil minister in Nigeria and later became the first female president of OPEC.

"We suspect Diezani Alison-Madueke abused her power in Nigeria and accepted financial rewards for awarding multi-million pound contracts. Bribery is a pervasive form of corruption, which enables serious criminality and can have devastating consequences for developing countries," head of NCA's international corruption unit, Andy Kelly, said in a statement.

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is dogged by rampant corruption, and ranked 150th among the 180 countries in the Transparency International Index. Earlier this month, Nigerian military forces destroyed 36 illegal refining sites and arrested 22 suspected oil thieves in the Niger Delta in the country’s latest crackdowns on illegal oil trade, with a Defense Headquarters spokesperson telling local media that the operation recovered 310,700 liters of crude oil; 14,675 liters of Automotive Gas Oil, 49,000 liters of Dual Purpose kerosene and assorted weapons. Last year, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCGROUP) CEO Melee Kyari revealed that Nigeria was losing nearly all the oil output at oil hub Bonny, the town after which its premium oil grade Bonny Light is named. 

Bonny Light is a light-sweet crude oil grade produced in Nigeria, and an important benchmark crude for all West African crude production. Bonny Light has particularly good gasoline yields, which has made it a popular crude for U.S. refiners, particularly on the U.S. East Coast. Although the figures are usually estimates, the NNPCL and the ministry of petroleum have variously put the total quantity of barrels stolen at between 200,000 to 400,000 per day. 

Nigeria produced 1.184 million bpd of crude in May, making it Africa’s largest producer ahead of Libya (1.158 million bpd), Angola (1.111 million bpd) and Algeria ( 962,000 bpd).

By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com

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