Monday, June 23, 2008

Nigerian Black Gold



An older National Geographic Article about Nigerian Oil.

"Oil fouls everything in southern Nigeria. It spills from the pipelines, poisoning soil and water. It stains the hands of politicians and generals, who siphon off its profits. It taints the ambitions of the young, who will try anything to scoop up a share of the liquid riches—fire a gun, sabotage a pipeline, kidnap a foreigner.

Nigeria had all the makings of an uplifting tale: poor African nation blessed with enormous sudden wealth. Visions of prosperity rose with the same force as the oil that first gushed from the Niger Delta's marshy ground in 1956. The world market craved delta crude, a "sweet," low-sulfur liquid called Bonny Light, easily refined into gasoline and diesel. By the mid-1970s, Nigeria had joined OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), and the government's budget bulged with petrodollars.

Everything looked possible—but everything went wrong. "
National Geographic



"Another night in Port Harcourt, a prolonged gun battle erupted outside my compound. Volleys from AK-47s, answered by the booms of pump-action shotguns, sent me running to barricade my door. The gunmen abducted four expatriates from Goodfellas, a nightclub nearby. (It was this incident that led the oil companies to cancel their tours.) A Dutch oil worker on contract to Shell, who makes $80,000 a year as a pipeline construction supervisor, told me he has to travel everywhere with an armed escort. "You must keep it in your mind that people out there may kill you," he said.

With every assault by the insurgents, the Nigerian military seems to answer with devastation. One evening, a gang of kidnappers dressed in army camouflage came by boat to a waterside neighborhood called Aker Base on the outskirts of Port Harcourt, stormed into a bar, and snatched an Italian construction worker employed by Saipem, an oil-servicing company. During the grab, the assailants killed a soldier. Within hours, troops swept into the shantytown and burned down every structure except a bank. Days later, stunned residents wandered through the charred ruins like ghosts; some 3,000 had lost their homes. "
National Geographic

I thought traffic in LA was bad-

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