RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia is investigating a smuggling operation that illegally exported discount-priced oil to Europe for more than 11 years, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on Saturday.
Unnamed companies had bought discounted oil under the guise of using it to produce chemicals domestically, but instead they shipped it to unidentified destinations in Europe, the paper said.
Okaz did not say how much oil had been smuggled out of the Red Sea industrial port of Yanbu.
A committee with representatives from the petroleum ministry, the interior ministry, Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, and three other bodies are investigating the case, Okaz said.
Officials from the oil ministry could not be contacted and an interior ministry official declined to comment on the report.
The world’s number two oil producer after Russia, Saudi Arabia sells crude oil at steep discounts to domestic processors as a way of encouraging the development of downstream refining and chemicals industry inside the country.