Fuel siphoned from refinery

Police in Attica are seeking to question several gas station managers following the arrest of a 32-year-old man believed to have been selling petrol he allegedly siphoned from an underground oil pipe at a refinery in Aspropyrgos, west of Athens. The man is alleged to have tapped into a central oil pipe using another pipe that, in turn, supplied a 40-ton capacity oil tank. This tank would be loaded onto a truck and transferred to gas stations, according to police, who said that 120 tons of fuel have been siphoned off in the past month alone. Officers believe that the 32-year-old had operated as part of an extended, and extremely well-organized, illicit network, including a large number of gas station owners and managers who are being sought for questioning. The police launched their investigation after receiving complaints from Hellenic Petroleum, which had noticed a drop in the pressure inside its oil pipes. Despite government warnings of «zero tolerance» of those involved in the trade of contraband fuel, the phenomenon has continued unabated, sources at the Economy Ministry’s special inspection unit told Kathimerini. Checks by the unit’s officials revealed that 900 tons of fuel were illegally traded in June this year, 500 tons in May and 400 tons in March. According to ministry estimates, the turnover from the contraband fuel trade in Greece is around 2 billion euros. A gas station owner, who insisted on remaining anonymous, explained to Kathimerini how traders exploit the contraband fuel trade. «You reduce the amount you buy from your supplier by a small amount, so as not to arouse suspicions, then you fill your tanks with contraband fuel at a cheaper rate. Your profit margins increase and even if you are fined, the amount will be much smaller than the money you make illegally,» he said.