THREE Shandong farmers have been sentenced to death for stealing oil from the Shandong Shengli oilfield. Yang Jianshe, Yang Liangde and Yang Yuanliand were found guilty last Wednesday by the Shandong Supreme People's Court of being responsible for the ''most serious destruction of the Shengli oilfield'' in more than 30 years. The court also ruled to remove their political rights, stripping them of any assets. Two other accomplices were given a suspended death penalty and life imprisonment. Another three were sentenced to long jail terms. Xinhua (the New China News Agency) said yesterday that the ''gang of eight'' was found guilty of causing serious damage to the pipelines near Guangrao City. Xinhua said they began to divert oil from the pipelines last April and had stolen more than 7,000 yuan (HK$9,380) worth of crude oil in five separate thefts . The offences remained undiscovered until July 12 when they again tried to steal oil but accidentally caused a high-pressure valve to burst. About 6,800 tonnes of crude oil was lost in the accident and more than five hectares of farmland was inundated. At least 74 oil wells were forced to stop production for 16 hours and an oil refinery had to suspend operation. Economic losses were estimatedat millions of yuan, Xinhua said.