Venezuela seizes $1.5 mln in oil equipment set to be smuggled to Colombia
CARACAS, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Venezuelan police seized two trucks loaded with $1.5 million in oil equipment that was to be smuggled into neighboring Colombia, the government said.
Tubes for oil extraction and production belonging to state-run oil company PDVSA were uncovered in the western state of Zulia, the OPEC country's traditional crude-producing area that sits at the contraband-rife border with Colombia.
Police started investigating following a report there was a plan to steal equipment from PDVSA's Topomoro production area, the Zulia state government said in a statement at the weekend.
A Venezuelan driver has been arrested, it said.
"The director of the Bolivarian Police for the state of Zulia denounced that this citizen had false permits from a company that has been suspended by the Seniat tax authority for any kind of transactions, be they imports or exports, since December," the statement read.
Venezuela's crime pandemic is a headache for the oil industry, with hold-ups and thefts on the rise in the sector, according to a recent Reuters investigation.
There is no official data on theft in the oil industry, which has also plagued energy-rich nations like Nigeria and Mexico for years.
PDVSA says it is ramping up security to safeguard operations, which include vast and remote oil fields as well as huge refineries by the coast in the country with the world's largest oil reserves.
PDVSA and the Oil Ministry did not immediately reply to requests for comment. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer Editing by W Simon)
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