Friday, December 7, 2007

Nigerian Oil

Nigeria’s coastal delta consists of mile upon mile of bogs and swamps. Underneath this sludge and soil are some of the richest deposits of petroleum ever discovered. Each week brings new discoveries and new riches to a primordial land filled with poverty and anarchy. Within these areas of undiscovered riches simple fisher people and villagers cohabitate with easily corruptible youth militia and violent pirates, and each have their opinion and stake in the exploration and exploitation of this wild country. The United States and other desperately energy-hungry nations are clamoring for the rights to dig here, for the projected yield grows in millions of barrels of oil as more and more fields are discovered.

Thirty percent of the world’s newly discovered oil reserves in the past five years are found on Africa’s west coast, and for the United States, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The United States imports most of its daily-used oil from Canada and Mexico. Canada’s Prudhoe Bay and other fields export nearly 1.6 million barrels of oil each day to the U.S. via the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Another 1.6 million daily barrels arrive from the south, from the oil rich deposits in the Gulf of Mexico. As these two oil supplies are slowly exhausted, the new Nigerian supplies gain importance. Nigeria has steadily risen in importance for United States oil consumption holding at nearly 1.1 million barrels imported per day. This 1.1 million barrels accounts for 10 percent of the United States’ oil imports, and the present administration projects this will rise to nearly 25 percent of American oil consumption by the end of the decade.

What does this mean for the poverty stricken population of southeastern Nigeria where most of the bogs and oil lies? For some villagers and local fisherman uneager to see colonization, exploration, and industrialization, the oil is seen as an evil poison, especially when accidental spills wreak havoc upon the ecosystem. Two spills into tributaries of the Kolo River changed life forever for a small village of 1000 people whose inhabitants fish to survive. The oil spill killed all of the fish and now the population must look further for subsistence in terms of food and occupation. Political motivation also fuels infighting over the rich oil fields. Youth militia in support of one group or another have taken over extraction stations, threatening to destroy them unless their demands were met; one such demand was for an expedient release of the particular faction’s political prisoners held by the Nigerian government.

The United States and other nations are keeping close watch over the politics of the Niger Delta, selfishly hoping to exploit in whatever means possible to help provide the oil their nations thrive upon. Ecosystems and ancient cultures inherent to these areas must stay strong in order to survive.

About the Author: Robert Jent is the president of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

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