Nigeria: July 3, 2004

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Armed resistance is growing in the oil rich delta region. The armed resistance is financed and motivated by about 100,000 barrels of oil that is stolen each day from the pipelines that crisscross the region. With the world oil price at $35 or higher, the delta region oil thieves can get $20-25 a barrel from middlemen who smuggle the oil out of the country in small tankers. The thieves use trucks with oil tanks mounted in the back, and just drill a hole in a oil pipeline and grab as much oil as their tank will hold, and then take off before the police and pipeline repair crew shows up. The thieves are making enough money to buy fast trucks and plenty of weapons. The thieves are also getting organized, and fighting over control of territory. But the leaders of these oil stealing gangs are becoming quite powerful, as some of them control over a thousand gunmen. The government was slow to send additional army and navy units into the delta, and the oil thieves are holding their own against government forces. The oil gangs have no political ambitions, aside from tribal loyalties and a general hatred of the federal government (which for decades has taken the oil profits and gave little of the money back to the people of the oil region.) But that could change as the oil warlords begin to realize how powerful they are.

 


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