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Task Force Fights Oilfield Thieves

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Oilfield theft is a huge problem here in the Basin, especially when times are good. Although a lot of thieves have gotten away with it in the past, one task force has been formed to make sure they don't anymore.

"In 2008, we identified that we were on the front side of another oil boom," says Matt Espenshade, FBI.

And from years past, local agents knew that as soon as the boom hit, oilfield thieves would follow. The FBI immediately started working on a way to solve the problem before it started.

" the FBI and the local counties got together, Midland County in particular, and started coming up with solutions on how we could get in front of the problem," says Espenshade.

They came up with the Oilfield Theft Task Force, combining local, state and federal assets to help fight crime in the oilfields of the Permian Basin. But before they could make it official, they had to get the green light from the director of the FBI.

" We know we had to justify we had the problem.We went out to the 31 highest producing oil and gas counties in Texas"

And what they found was that roughly $78 million dollars had been lost to oilfield thefts between 2005 and 2007. Enough to justify the need for the task force.

"And it has been extremely successful over the period of time we've run it," says Espenshade.

The Oilfield Theft Task Force, which covers 14 counties here in the Basin, was started in 2008 and has since helped make more than 60 arrests related to oilfield theft. They've also recovered more than $8 million dollars worth of equipment.

If you see anything suspicious going on in the oilfield or at an oil and gas related business, you can help by calling 1-888-OIL TIPS.
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