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BBC News: Brazil theft ‘linked to gas find’

Thursday, 21 February 2008, 02:27 GMT 
By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo 
 
Confidential information stolen from Brazil’s oil company Petrobras related to the recent discovery of a huge offshore gas field, police say.

The disappearance of four laptops and two hard drives is being treated as a case of industrial espionage.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has referred to the stolen material as a “state secret”.

The investigation into this mysterious and high-profile theft, which happened late last month, is continuing.

The laptops and hard drives were stolen as they were being transported from an offshore rig to offices belonging to Petrobras.

‘No common crime’

Police have discounted the possibility that it was a common theft, and say it was clear that those responsible were looking for specific information.

They have highlighted the fact that other valuable equipment was left behind by the thieves.

Detectives say there was a flaw in the security surrounding the delivery, and they have been trying to retrace the container’s route to establish where and how the robbery took place.

Police now say the stolen material related to a recent significant discovery of gas off the Brazilian coast, near Rio de Janeiro.

Petrobras revealed details of the Jupiter gas field in January, and while the company did not give precise information, the find was hailed at the time as having the potential to make the country self-sufficient in natural gas.

President Lula has described the theft as a serious matter and has referred to the stolen material as a “state secret”.

Police have interviewed at least 17 people who came into contact with the information, or who were involved in its transportation.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7256024.stm

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