Crude Oil Theft Impacts The Price for Gas 8/3/12
CBS 7 News
August 3, 2012
MIDLAND, TX - A special kind of theft happening across West Texas is affecting the price we pay at the pump.
It is the bloodline of the Permian Basin, with a pulse that drives our economy, but this industry is being targeted for it's very valuable raw oil.
Police and Sheriff's offices are reporting cases of crude oil theft, and we spoke with a victim of this theft, a land and mineral rights owner who chose to stay anonymous.
He explained to us his pumper was the first to discover thousands of dollars in crude oil were taken from him overnight.
"By early the next morning when he came in to gage the tank he knew that product was missing and they checked for leaks, no leaks, so it had to be stolen."
He estimates the loss at 130 barrels costing about $14,000.
"That's a pretty nice pay check they missed that day."
It's not just the oil company relying on that crude, there are investors, landowners and mineral owners who still have to be paid with or without the oil.
And so this loss is passed to the consumer.
"Of course they're going to pass it on at the pump when you and I go fill up on gas they have to recover their money some way."
Special Agent Cory Richardson with the Oil Field Theft Task Force is working on cases just like this one and tells us there is an industry for stolen crude.
"Just like any stolen property you've got to be able to do something with is once you've got it."
It's a crime that happens under the cover of darkness, in remote locations, and it's typically done by the very employees who work the oil field by day.
"You'd have to have a knowledge of the industry to be able to do that. You couldn't drive a truck out there that's a tanker or a vacuum truck and know exactly what you needed to do to steal a tanker load of oil," said Richardson.
One load he says can fetch up to $16,000, a cost that all comes full circle hitting West Texas drivers.
"The company has a loss and ultimately you and I will pay more at the pump."
The FBI is working closely with the Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute these cases.
They've convicted at least six cases in the past two years.