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spindrifter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-04-06 10:24 PM
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Death rules the delta in battle to control oil
Sunday March 5, 2006
The Observer


The history, politics and culture of the Niger River Delta is as rich, complex and intricate as the ecology of the Africa's largest floodplain. The delta covers an area of dense rainforest, sand ridges, mangrove forests and swamps with a labyrinthine distribution of tidal channels, streams, rivers and creeks. Rich in natural resources such as timber, coal, palm oil, natural gas and crude oil, it is also one of the most densely populated areas of the globe and one of the world's largest wetlands. And it is virtually impossible to patrol.


It is the revenue from oil that keeps the 400 or so ethnic groups known as Nigeria together. Without it, the country might already have split.


A recent addition to criminal activities is oil bunkering - siphoning oil from pipelines onto barges, which are then sold on the high seas. Official estimates suggest that Nigeria loses 100,000 barrels daily through oil bunkering. The lucrative practice is rumoured to involve the complicity of oil company employees and highly placed government officials.

The full story is waiting to be told. Thus far only two naval officers have being held in connection with bunkering but it is an open secret among youths here that the 'business' is an alliance of mutually beneficial arrangements between officials, soldiers, ex-soldiers and the militias. If the business is shrouded in clandestine operations, the chain of violence is clear enough: Human Rights Watch says that oil bunkering is responsible for fuelling the gang-related violence in the delta that killed 1,000 Nigerians in 2004.


If you have a chance, read the entire article for some insights into a complex situation in Nigeria that we need to understand, not only to have a better perspective on West African issues, but also for its contribution to the intricacies of world oil.
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