Nigeria: The Gunboat War


March 8, 2007: The navy has brought in several more gunboats, to patrol the numerous waterways in the Niger River Delta. Oil stealing gangs have been tapping into more pipelines, in order to steal oil. The gangs usually hit the pipeline where it crosses a waterway. A hole is made in the pipe, and barrels filled with oils. The thieves get about $20 a (43 gallon) barrel. The barrels are later emptied into small tankers or barges, which then go to neighboring countries, where oil brokers will buy the stolen oil and "launder it" so that it can be sold to legitimate customers. The cash from this stolen oil is buying boats, guns and other goodies for the thieves, but is causing even more oil to be lost. The thieves don't plug up the pipeline when they are finished filling their barrels, but just take off. It may take repair crews days to find and fix the leak. The leaks are cosing nearly 200,000 barrels a day to be lost. The additional navy patrols will seek to catch the oil thieves in the act. The navy has greatly expanded its force of patrol boats in the last few years, with over 40 now in service. Five years ago, the navy had less than a dozen.

March 6, 2007: In the Niger River Delta, a dispute over how to share money and jobs from an oil company, led to a dispute among local tribesmen, and left at least 13 dead. The violence went on for several days. The government is trying to negotiate peace deals with tribal elders in the Niger Delta. But the elders have limited influence on the wealthy, and well armed, gang leaders in the delta.

March 5, 2007: The National Police are importing 40,000 AK-47 rifles and 20 million round of ammunition, to arm additional police and paramilitaries. The growth of crime, especially in the oil producing areas of the Niger River Delta have led to an expansion of security forces.

March 2, 2007: In Port Harcourt, the largest city in the Delta, a group of unidentified gunmen opened fire in a crowded district, killing or wounding 17 people. No rebel group, or anyone else, took credit for the incident. MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta). the largest rebel group in the Delta, has promised more violence.


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