BEIJING - China will launch a
new police campaign to snare gangs that illegally drill for oil or steal from
oil and gas pipelines, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.
Police would investigate theft of oil and gas in provinces through which
China's West-East pipeline runs, from Xinjiang in the far west to Shandong in
the east, Xinhua on Wednesday reported Liu Jinguo, vice minister of Public
Security, as saying.
The eight-month campaign will follow investigations that helped bust 650
gangs last year, resulting in theft charges being laid against some 7,500
people, it said.
China arrested more than 4,500 people for theft of oil, illegally drilling
for oil and gas or damaging pipelines in 2006, Xinhua reported in January.
Last year's crackdown netted 9,000 tonnes of oil, or 65,700 barrels, a haul
worth several million dollars but a drop in the ocean of China's demand of
nearly 7 million barrels per day.
Most of the thieves were farmers and villagers tapping into crude and gas
pipelines that pass near their houses, and diverting the fuel into crude plastic
bags or balloons.
The oil is often sold to small illegal refineries that are shut down
by authorities due to heavy pollution.