ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — Today the Atlantic Council released a report titled Downstream Oil Theft: Global Modalities, Trends, and Remedies. The study, which is the most extensive examination of illicit downstream hydrocarbons activity ever published, was led by Dr. Ian Ralby, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of I.R. Consilium. The report was launched at the Atlantic Council’s inaugural Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

As Ralby writes: “Fuel is vital to human life, and everyone wants a discount. Across the globe, people are willing to break the law in order to pursue that discount.” The illicit activity varies from cross-border smuggling, to pirating tankers, to tapping pipelines, to committing sophisticated fraud. Divided into three parts, the report presents ten case studies, identifies trends and key stakeholders, and makes recommendations on how to address this ongoing challenge. The report elaborates how largely ignored forms of hydrocarbons crime pose a very real threat to regional and global stability, security, and prosperity. Ralby and his team set forth an array of recommendations involving international cooperation, reform, regulations and standards, intervention, and concrete countermeasures. As this study explains, downstream oil theft is not merely an end in itself; it is also a means to the criminal ends of terrorist groups, organized crime syndicates, and violent insurgents which must be addressed as a global issue.  

This report was produced with generous support from SICPA.

The rollout of the report featured a panel of experts, including Dr. Ralby; Éric Besson, former minister of Industry, Energy, and Digital Economy for the Republic of France; Dr. John C. Gannon, former chairman of the US National Intelligence Council; and Kola Karim, group chief executive officer (CEO) at Shoreline Energy International.

Hosted by the Atlantic Council in partnership with the Ministry of Energy of the United Arab Emirates, ADNOC, Mubadala, and IPIC, and under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, the Global Energy Forum is part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Over the last two days, leading policymakers and business leaders from around the world have convened to discuss the most effective ways to strengthen energy markets, advance new technologies, and foster climate action.

The Forum is an initiative of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, which works to promote global access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy. In particular, the Energy Center focuses on creative responses to energy-related geopolitical conflicts and identifying trends to help develop energy strategies and policies that ensure global prosperity and security.

To speak with Ian Ralby or for more information about the report, please email [email protected]

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