Nigeria: Oil Wars


December2, 2006: Tribal violence in the Delta oil region has halted about 39 percent of the national oil exports. The tribal communities are fed up with decades of government corruption, and economic and ecological disaster for the Delta population. The government is trying a combination of carrot (payoffs to groups that will leave the oil facilities alone) and stick (military and police action against groups that will not make deals.) The government talks tough, but the police and military are pretty incompetent, and generally unable to stop all the attacks. Nigerian law prohibits the oil companies from forming their own armed security force, so the oil companies have to hire off-duty cops if they want any armed protection for their people and facilities. Payoffs are, increasingly, not enough, because more and more local groups see violence as a way to make some money. The government is losing millions of dollars a day in oil revenues because of the Delta violence, and that is putting pressure on the politicians to try new ideas. Honest and efficient government is not among the suggestions.

November 30, 2006: The peace deal with the Ijaw tribal gangs in the Delta region is not working because additional groups have shown up looking for part of the payoff. Government negotiators are trying to resolve this, and get the oil facility repairs underway.

November 24, 2006: The government has worked out payoff deals for all of the Ijaw tribal groups in Delta, so that damaged oil facilities can be put back into service. Normally, the oil companies handle the payoffs, but in this case, the Ijaw unrest was so widespread, that the oil companies withdrew and told the government to calm down the area, if they wanted to see oil production resume. This took about 20 percent of the national oil production off-line. 

November 22, 2006: Seven foreign oil workers had been kept after a rebel raid, on the 19th, of a oil company supply ship. The navy located where the hostages and staged a raid today. A sailor, a hostage and two rebels were killed during the operation.