China may be leaking more oil and gas from its pipeline network than any country in the world, much of it because of criminal activity.
the biggest and least-known problem is oil pilferage by thieves who drill into oil pipelines. This is the cause of at least 40 percent of China’s oil pipeline leaks. This criminal activity started in the early 1990s and it has never stopped since. Although alarm systems are installed along the pipelines, men have to be used to prevent oil theft.
Oil theft from pipelines has become so widespread that even undersea pipelines are being attacked. In 2006, both oil and gas pipelines at the bottom of the sea in the Shengli oilfield were drilled and 70 barrels of crude oil were stolen. But much more oil was spilled and that leak caused serious pollution in the area. The government came down hard on the perpetrators and two were executed. The Shengli oilfield had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the damaged pipelines, clean the seawater pollution and compensate local farmers.
Sometimes local police and security personnel side with the oil stealing criminals or even become their accomplices.
the rewards are too great for criminals to quit, even at the risk of the death penalty.