Monday, November 24, 2008

Link to Blog Entry about Ed's lecture in Washington Last Night

Elizabeth Krist, a dear friend and excellent photo editor at National Geographic Magazine, has written a strong review of my lecture from last night in Washington, DC, as part of DC Photo Week. Please check it out, as she discusses my comments about advocacy journalism and objectivity in some of my work.

DC FotoWeek

Here's what another attendee had to say:


Monday, November 17, 2008

Enthusiastic Review of "Curse"

Distinguished picture editor and photojournalism specialist, Colin Jacobson (Senior Lecturer, MA Photojournalism - University of Westminster) has written a must-read review of Curse of the Black Gold for the UK's fastest growing publication of photojournalism - 8 Magazine

In Jacobson's words, "The visual journalism interconnects and overlaps, permeated by a strong consistency of vision. It’s the oil, of course, that binds it all together and Kashi’s apocalyptic tone shakes one to the roots."

Read the entire review and get the book!
8 Magazine


Friday, November 14, 2008

Panel Discussion: The Petroleum and Poverty Paradox

Panel Discussion: Senate Foreign Relations Staff Report on “The Petroleum and Poverty Paradox: Assessing U.S. and International Community Efforts to Fight the Resource Curse”

Reception and Photo Exhibit with Ed Kashi, Photographer:
Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta

Thursday, November 20, 4:30-7:00 PM

PANEL from 4:30-5:50 PM in the HERTER ROOM, Nitze Building,
Johns Hopkins – SAIS, 1740 Mass Ave., Main Floor
RECEPTION from 6:00-7:00 PM in the Student Lounge off the Nitze Cafeteria

Panel Discussion:
Moderator: Ian Gary, Senior Policy Advisor, Oxfam America
Neil Brown, Professional Staff Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Michael Phelan, Professional Staff Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Dr. Peter Lewis, Director, African Studies, Johns Hopkins - SAIS

Join us for a panel discussion focused on the new Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report, “The Petroleum and Poverty Paradox: Assessing U.S. and International Community Efforts to Fight the Resource Curse.” The report is based on months of research, including field visits to oil-producing countries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere, by Sen. Lugar’s committee staff. The panel will look at the key global findings and recommendations, as well as examine the progress and challenges in addressing the resource curse in Nigeria.

The panel discussion is being organized in conjunction with an exhibit of photos from the Niger Delta. The photos, by Ed Kashi, are drawn from a new book, Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta, edited by Prof. Michael Watts of UC Berkeley. The photos will be on display in the lobby of the Nitze Building at SAIS from Nov. 17-30. Ed Kashi has photographed in 60-plus countries. His images have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, National Geographic and other publications. His work on West Bank settlers received a World Press Photo award. His eight-year project, "Aging in America: The Years Ahead," won prizes from Pictures of the Year and World Press Photo. Kashi and his wife, writer/filmmaker Julie Winokur, founded Talking Eyes Media, a multimedia nonprofit. Visit

Please RSVP for the panel discussion and reception to

At SAIS, contact or African Studies: 202-663-5676

Press Release of Senator Lugar
More can be done to prevent abuses from oil wealth

Monday, November 10, 2008

The United States and the international community must do more to prevent mismanagement and corruption in developing countries newly enriched by oil export revenues, according to a new Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report.
“The United States has important economic, security and humanitarian interests in seeing that revenue from oil production and other extractive industries are well managed,” said Sen. Dick Lugar, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Discovery of large oil reserves should be a benefit to a poor country, but history proves the opposite is often the case. It can lead to fraud, corruption, wasteful spending, military adventurism, and instability.”

The report, entitled “The Petroleum and Poverty Paradox: Assessing U.S. and International Community Efforts to Fight the Resource Curse,” was prepared by Lugar’s committee staff based on on-site inspections to a number of oil-producing countries in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. The findings include that a key tool to fight the so-called “resource curse” is more disclosure, or transparency, of the fees and royalties paid by international oil companies to the governments of developing countries. A special international organization, the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative, based in Norway, has been formed to enlist oil-producing developing countries in a voluntary program of income disclosure and outside auditing.

The report found that while the United States generally supports transparency efforts, action often falls short. U.S. attention to the issue is often sporadic, and it has not received a high priority at the top levels of government. The report also found that international coordination on transparency matters lacks coordination, and that some key countries, including China, whose state-backed oil companies have a large footprint in many developing nations, have not yet engaged in the extractives transparency agenda.

The report makes a number of recommendations for the new administration, including that the U.S. make combating the resource curse a high-profile issue in diplomacy and foreign policy. It recommends that the industrial G-8 countries do more to encourage their corporations and financial institutions to promote disclosure and accountability in oil exporting nations, and that the World Bank and other aid donors make anti-corruption and fiscal management programs a key part of their lending to oil producing nations.

Good management of extractive revenues is important to broad U.S. foreign policy goals, Lugar emphasized. “When oil revenue in a producing country can be easily tracked, that nation’s elite are more likely to use revenues for the vital needs of their citizens and less likely to squander newfound wealth on self-aggrandizing projects," Lugar said. "When financial markets see stable economic growth and political organization in oil-rich states, supplies are more reliable and the risk premium factored into gas prices at the pump is lower. And as official corruption tempted by oil wealth abates, our foreign assistance dollars can do more to help the world’s most needy.”

The report may be found at the Senate Foreign Relations section of the Government Printing Office website: It is report number S. Prt. 110-49 can be in TEXT 59K or PDF 3.2M format.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Niger Delta - Part of CNN's Planet in Peril Special

Take a look at the link below recognizing Ed's Niger Delta segment of David Elliot Cohen's recent book What Matters.

CNN Planet in Peril - The price of our oil addiction

Listen to Ed's comments


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Curse of the Black Gold on Mother Jones website

Please check out a new posting about my book, Curse of the Black Gold, about the Niger Delta.

Mother Jones

Also on the Reportage blog:


Friday, October 31, 2008

More Troubling News from Nigeria and a Free Press

330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465-1004 Fax: (212) 465-9568 Web:
NIGERIA: Second U.S.-based Nigerian blogger held

New York, October 31, 2008—Nigeria’s national security agency today confirmed it is holding a U.S.-based Nigerian blogger in the capital, Abuja. This is the second online journalist held for questioning in the past two weeks.

Local journalists told CPJ that the detentions are part of a government crackdown on foreign-based Nigerian political Web sites ever since controversial photos of President Umaru Yar’Adua’s son were published on a popular news blog.

Emmanuel Emeka Asiwe, editor of the Arlington, Mass.-based HuhuOnline, was being “questioned over matters of national security,” according to State Security Service (SSS) spokesman Kenechukwu Onyeogu. The SSS took the blogger into custody today after he arrived from the U.S., he said. But defense lawyer Babalola Akinwumi told CPJ Asiwe was arrested on Tuesday at Lagos’ airport. Asiwe has been held incommunicado and without charge in Abuja ever since, the lawyer said. Nigerian law allows authorities to hold people for up to 48 hours without charge.

“We are concerned that Nigerian authorities are detaining journalists in an attempt to intimidate foreign-based online journalists from reporting on Nigeria,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “We call on President Yar’Adua to ensure that the SSS respects due process and stop these actions that undermine Nigeria’s democratic gains and harken back to the era of military rule.”

Jonathan Elendu of the Lansing, Michigan-based ElenduReports was detained for 10 days and was provisionally released without charge on Wednesday. ElenduReports published often controversial reports on corruption among Nigerian politicians. New York-based SaharaReporters recently published exclusive photos of Yar’Adua’s teenage son, Musa, posing with an AK-47 assault rifle and holding cash.

Speaking to CPJ shortly after his release, Elendu said security agents questioned him for five days over his alleged links to SaharaReporters, his sources of information and funding as well as his opinions of the president. Agents also quizzed him about stories discussing Yar’Adua’s health.

Elendu’s travel documents remain confiscated, defense lawyer Ugo Muoma told CPJ. Speaking to CPJ on October 22, SSS spokesman Onyeogu said the journalist had been “invited for questioning on matters of national security” in relations to several of his stories.

In recent months, coverage of sensitive topics, including unrest in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta and Yar’Adua’s health and family, have often resulted in arrests and raids by the SSS, which reports directly to the Nigerian presidency, according to CPJ research. At least seven journalists, including Asiwa and Elendu, have been detained in SSS custody this year alone without charge for days or weeks, according to CPJ research.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit


Friday, October 24, 2008

"Genius Grant" for Adichie

A second contributor to Curse of the Black Gold, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, was recently recognized with another award! Adichie, a Nigerian-born novelist who previously won an Orange prize, was selected to receive a prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship annually for the next five years. Popularly known as "genius grants", these fellowships are granted based on "exceptional merit and promise of continued creative work". Read the details in an interview with Guardian.

Our sincerest congratulations to Ms. Adichie on this well-deserved honor!


The Drama, the Tension, As Kaine Agary Wins NLNG Literary Prize

We are excited to announce that one of the Nigerian contributors to Curse of the Black Gold, Kaine Agary, has won a prestigious literary award. Check out the link below for details. Bravo Kaine!

The Vanguard


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Kolkata's daily Life: Visual Storytelling in the City of Joy

I am excited to announce I will be teaching a workshop in conjunction with the Tuscany Photographic Workshops, and Carlo Roberti. Please check out the link below for all the info and hope to see you in Kolkata in March of 2009! Please contact me directly if you have any questions.

Kolkata Daily Life Workshop


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Photography's Role in Advocating for Social Change

It was standing room only at Tuesday night's New York event hosted by Revenue Watch Institute and the Open Society Documentary Photography Project.

Distinguished panelists including Ina Howard-Parker, Antoine Heuty, Omoyele Sowore, Micahel Watts, and our own Ed Kashi met to discuss the atrocities of "political gangsterism, corruption, and poverty" that have converged in the Niger Delta over the past 5 decades.

Questions addressed by the forum: Can pictures help bring about peace and democracy in the world's sixth largest oil producing country? Are the poor of Nigeria devoid of their rights as human beings due to the "scramble for African oil"?

We'd love to hear from those fortunate to have been in attendance at the event and for those who were not there, learn more from the sites below:

Open Society Institute

Revenue Watch Institute


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

RayKo Gallery to Show Curse Images in Upcoming Exhibition

Greetings and please note that my work from the book Curse of the Black Gold will be exhibited along with Lou Dematteis' work on oil in Ecuador at San Francisco's RayKo Gallery. Please see the link below for more details. The opening is Friday, November 7, and I'll be in San Francisco for this and a series of events until November 15th, culminating in a public lecture with myself and Lou at the SF Public Library. Hope to see you all there.

RayKo Gallery

Additional comments about the RayKo Exhibit:
Deborah Coleman
Bowoto v Chevron Trial


Saturday, September 20, 2008

San Francisco Public Library Lecture in November

I will be giving a public lecture with photographer Lou Dematteis on Saturday, November 15th, from 2-5pm at the San Francisco Public Library on the subject of oil in Ecuador and Nigeria. Joining us will be professor Michael Watts and activists working on issues around these two troubled places where oil is produced.

Lecture Info


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Escalating Violence!

News of increased fighting between MEND and the Nigerian military continues to emerge from the Niger Delta. Hear and read the latest from Reuters.

Voxant newsroom


Photojournalists Explore Social Issues

A compilation of photo essays by world-renowned photojournalists hit bookshelves yesterday in David Elliot Cohen's new book What Matters. In Cohen's words, “Great photojournalism changed the world in the past, and it can do it again. I want people to see these images, get angry, and act on that anger.” Take a look at Ed Kashi's contribution to this visual representation of some of today's most problematic social concerns. Action time!

Vanity Fair


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Much Is Enough?

Considering that between 2004 and 2007, the profits of the major six oil companies totaled $494.8 billion, who do we believe - the Nigerian government representing the oil companies or the impoverished Nigerian people? In follow-up to previous info, an article in yesterday's New York Times brings to light the difference in stories emerging from the Niger Delta about the "oil war" that is sweeping the area. What does the ongoing conflict mean for the rest of the world?

The New York Times


Monday, September 15, 2008

Oil War?

If you’re concerned about rising gas costs, check this out! Yesterday’s Bloomberg article highlights the escalating tensions in the Niger Delta between the Nigerian government's military forces, supporting foreign oil producers, and opposing heavily armed fighters from MEND (the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta).

According to a MEND spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, “The operation [attacks on the oil industry in Rivers state] will continue until the government of Nigeria appreciates that the solution to peace in the Niger Delta is justice, respect and dialogue.”

Aside from the world’s dependence on Nigeria’s rich oil reserves, what about the death, destruction and devastation wrought on this impoverished area? How many more civilian lives will be lost? Is a full scale “oil war” imminent? What about international ramifications? Let us know your thoughts and concerns.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Doubts About New Peace Initiative in Niger Delta

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has announced that a new ministry will be created to deal with the problems of the oil-rich Niger Delta. Read on to learn more, but so far the idea has been met with skepticism and doubts.
BBC in Africa


Friday, September 5, 2008

Filmmaker Andrew Berends and his Translator are Freed In Niger Delta


*****************CONTAINS UPDATES***********************

CONTACT Aaron Soffin, Storyteller Productions Phone: 917.887.4063
/ 212.712.2781 Email:

American filmmaker provisionally released from Nigerian custody to US embassy personnel

NEW YORK, September 5, 2008 – American filmmaker Andrew Berends is being provisionally released to US embassy personnel late Friday night, but is required to return to the State Security Services on Monday for what is expected to be routine final processing. Berends was moved Friday from the SSS offices in Port Harcourt to the Nigerian capital of Abuja. His translator, Samuel George and a Port Harcourt businessman have apparently also been provisionally released in Port Harcourt and must return to the SSS there on Monday.

"Andrew's family, friends and colleagues are relieved and happy to hear of this progress and appreciate the hard work on many fronts to get to this point," said Aaron Soffin, Berends' colleague and coordinator of the release efforts. "We trust that his final processing on Monday will be expedient and routine. We are anxious for confirmation that he is safely on his way out of the country."

When she heard the news Polly Berends, his mother, said, "Nothing will make me happier than to hear his voice, except to hug him."

Hearing of Berends' arrest Senator Charles Schumer, D-New York and Senator Hillary Clinton, D-New York, each responded with a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling for Berends' immediate release. Several other US lawmakers, including Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, have also been actively engaged in advocating for Berends.

Berends was arrested at approximately 6 pm on Sunday, August 31st, by the Nigerian military along with his translator, Samuel George. Andrew entered Nigeria legally in April 2008 to complete a documentary film.

Aaron Soffin


Curse of the Black Gold Multimedia on Slate.Com

Hey has published our multimedia piece on Curse of the Black Gold....check it out.



Thursday, September 4, 2008

Filmmaker Andrew Berends Arrested In Niger Delta

Having been through this myself in June of 2006, I know only too well what a harrowing and deeply disturbing experience this is. The Nigeria authorities do not want foreign journalists to report what is going on in the Niger Delta but it is our duty to report these kinds of stories. Andrew is a gifted filmmaker who has been working in the Niger Delta for some time and devoted vast amounts of time there to create his new film. If anyone can offer help to him please read below.

Dear friends and family,

Our dear friend and colleague, Andrew Berends, has been arrested while reporting from Nigeria. Below, and attached, you can read the details of his detainment. First, I ask you to keep him in your hopes and prayers. Second, as the news of this breaks today, I ask you to think about who you know in the media or in the Senate/House who can help bring more attention to Andrew's situation. Please call them on Andrew's behalf, and please forward the press statement below as widely as possible. The more attention this gets, the better. Third, some of you may receive calls from reporters. I urge you to say only what is written below, a carefully worded statement to protect Andrew in this difficult moment. Finally, please respond to this address only if you have high level contacts in the US government, the media, or the Nigerian government. Otherwise, please send any notes, or prayers for Andy to this e-mail address:

May Andrew hear your prayers on his behalf.
Aaron Soffin


Aaron Soffin, Storyteller Productions
Phone: 917.887.4063 / 212.712.2781

American documentary filmmaker detained in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

NEW YORK, September 2, 2008 – Andrew Berends, an established, award-winning American filmmaker and journalist from New York, was detained Sunday August 31st by the Nigerian military along with his translator, Samuel George, and Joe Bussio, the manager of a local bar. Andrew entered Nigeria legally in April 2008 to complete a documentary film.

Andrew was held in custody without food, sleep, or representation, and with limited water for 36 hours. He was questioned by the army, the police, and the State Security Services in Port Harcourt. He was then temporarily released, with an order to the SSS office at 9AM Tuesday morning. The State Security Services has confiscated his passport and personal property. Andrew's translator, Samuel George, remained in custody over night.

The US State Department is aware of the situation, and an attorney has been retained on Andrew's behalf. We, Andrew's friends, family, and colleagues, are deeply concerned that he has been held without cause and are calling for his safe treatment and immediate release.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Please Note: National Geographic Lecture

There has been some confusion regarding the lecture by Ed Kashi at National Geographic.

Please be aware that the CORRECT date for the lecture is November 21.

Please see the post below for further information.

Thank you.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Master of Photography Lecture Series at National Geographic

Please note that I will be giving a lecture at National Geographic on November 21, as part of their Masters of Photography lecture series. This presentation will be a big affair for me. I will be showing work from a new project about India, my project on the Niger Delta, and also sharing work close to home, from our multimedia piece on my father-in-law's time living with us. The link below will give all details. Hope to see you there.

Ed Kashi Lecture at National Geographic


Friday, August 22, 2008

Curse Exhibition at powerHouse Arena on Aug. 28th

Please check out this link about my next opening, which is an unusual presentation of long prints, each a set of 7 images from my new book, Curse of the Black Gold...

powerHouse Gallery


Monday, August 18, 2008

Curse Reviewed in the September The Atlantic Monthly

We are honored that Curse of the Black Gold has been reviewed in the September issue of The Atlantic Monthly, in addition to being featured on their website.

You can see the spread in our gallery "press clippings" on the Curse of the Black Gold website.

To see the online content click here.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Sierra Club Interview with Michael Watts

“Since Nigeria became an oil producer, about 1960, there have been over 7,000 oil spills. 7,000. Collectively that would be six or seven Exxon-Valdese’s…The World Wildlife Fund did an inventory of the Niger Delta, which is a magnificent tropical rain forest, coastal barrier reefs, and a huge sedimentary basin where the river Niger empties out into the Atlantic. So it’s a very fragile and important part of the African environment. And, with these 7,000 oil spills, the World Wildlife Fund referred to this area as one of the most polluted spots on the face of the earth.”

- Michael Watts

Click here to listen to this 9 minute interview.


The Digital Journalist

Curse of the Black Gold:
Photographs by Ed Kashi
August 2008
by Dirck Halstead

As anybody who has filled up his or her SUV recently, and watched the cost to do so rise to over $100, is painfully aware, a part of our daily ritual has become prohibitively expensive. All the warnings that went unheeded about our dependence on petroleum becoming unsustainable are now a fearful reality.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

The Digital Journalist featured Curse of the Black Gold with an article, a photo gallery and a video interview. Be sure to take a look at this thorough feature!


Friday, August 8, 2008

Open Society Institute on Curse of the Black Gold

Moving Walls 14, the Open Society Institute's current exhibition, includes my work on the Niger Delta. They have just put up the websites with myself and the other photographers in this exhibition. There is a lot to see and listen to, including a trailer of our Curse of the Black Gold multimedia piece and in interview with me.

Moving Walls


Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Independent in London

Take a look at Independent's August edition to see their six-page spread:

"The Niger Delta: The curse of the black gold"
Nigeria is one of the world's biggest oil producers. but the scramble for riches has brought ruin to the region and its people.
Report by Steve Bloomfield

If you're in Britain, you can check it out on the newsstands. For everyone else, we've posted the pages on the Curse website under Gallery, Press Clippings.
To see just the article (sans pictures) take a look at the Independent Website.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ever More Ways to Help

Scott Peg, Director of International Studies at IUPUI’s Department of Political Science, alerted us to these three organizations whose mission is to help the people of the Niger Delta region in various ways.

He writes:
“The project that I have been working on for almost 8 years now with schools in Bodo and Bane in the Ogoni part of Rivers State can be found at … It obviously won't solve all the problems in the Delta, but I didn't want to be one of those academics who flies in for a quick visit, gets Patrick or Patterson or Von to show them around for 4 days and then writes an article and never puts anything back into the area. We are now almost finished with classroom buildings in both villages and moving rapidly into a water and sanitation phase to provide latrines and boreholes at each school.

A similar great project run by a British couple in Akwa Ibom State which also does a lot of work campaigning against child witchcraft there can be found at

One other link is Patrick Naagbanton's NGO, the Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development. They are amongst the distinct minority of NGOs that do not accept funding from the oil companies or the Nigerian government. Their website is”

Please take a look at these links and get involved!


powerHouse Exhibition

August 15 - September 2 Curse of the Black Gold will be exhibited at the powerHouse Arena! Opening is on August 28, 6-9pm. Keep an eye out for updates on this event.


Communication Arts

Five of Ed Kashi’s photographs from the Niger Delta slaughter made their way into Communication Arts’ Photography Annual 49 this August. To see his images, take a look at pages 148-149.


NPPA Members Alert:

In July’s News Photographer Magazine, Stephen Wolgast reviews Curse of the Black Gold. For those of you who receive News Photographer, be sure to take a look at pages 30-33, or you can see the spreads in the press clippings area of the gallery section of the Curse of the Black Gold website.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

I am consistently amazed at how childish grown men can behave in the pursuit of their goals. This issue of honor and respect seems to cut to the heart of why so many conflicts continue unabated in the world today. Read this short article from the Times of Nigeria and notice it feeds off a previous post.

Here is Link


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Disturbing Article: Paying Off Militants

The following article illustrates how warped things have become in the Niger Delta: a major nationalized oil company has openly admitted to paying off militants so they can make repairs on their oil facilities.

NNPC Paid Militants $6 Million, Says GMD

This Day (Lagos) NEWS
23 July 2008
By Stanley Nkwazema Abuja

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said yesterday that it paid Niger Delta militants $6 million in order to allow it repair the Chanomi Crude oil pipeline in Delta State.

The Corporation also said that a total of $77.031 billion or N3.930 trillion was generated between January 2003 and March 2008. Out of the amount, it said, the Corporation remitted the sum of $56,222 billion or N3.930 trillion to the federation account.

The House of Representatives Committee investigating the non remittance of revenues into the Federation Account also revealed yesterday that 60 percent of the work so far done has confirmed that Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government generated over N3.56 trillion naira between January 2003 but paid only N1.36 trillion into the Federation account within the same period.

The Chairman of the Committee Honourable John Ewah Enoh who spoke yesterday at the resumed hearing of the committee said the money could have boosted the budget of the federation if there were enabling laws to curtail the MDAs from spending their excess funds.

The Acting Group Managing Director of the organisation, Engineer Lawal Abubakar Yar'Adua confirmed to the House Committee on Finance that the NNPC paid $6 million ransome militants which gave them the lee way to repair the Chanomi Crude Oil Pipeline in Delta state.

"The price we are also paying in the Niger Delta is higher in terms of insurance as they demand higher because of the risks involved. It is very difficult to get expatriates to work in that area".

"For instance, we paid the militants who are also there. In the Chanomi Creek we negotiated with them and they said we should pay $100 million. But we negotiated with them and came down to $6 million because we were losing $81 million due to the problem of ruptured pipelines in the Chanomi Creek which supplied Crude to the North", he said.

On refinery allocation, Yar'Adua also said that though there is "no such thing as refinery allocation since 2003, the NNPC buys its crude at the same international market like others

He said the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) its oil exploratory arm "went out of production for eight months due to the activities of the militants in the Niger Delta, but it is back and producing 686,000 bpd. We are talking to the militants. The NPDC is the real source of revenue to the NNPC. They are bringing revenue to the country."

On the refusal of the Federal government to subsidise the price of diesel as it had done in Petrol and kerosene, Yar'Adua put the blame on the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He said "NNPC is the one handling the subsidy. We were not given any subsidy as we have in PMS. NNPC is still selling diesel at N61.50 which is a heavy loss. We are losing money and we can not raise prices because we are government owned.

Very soon, if care is not taken NNPC may collapse, because we are selling at a loss", he said.

The document he presented to the House shows that in 2003, 267,330,574 barrels were produced worth $7,758,503,500.30. In 2004, a total of 301,046,631 barrels worth $11,506,679,964.27 were produced. In 2005. a total of 295,472,471 barrels worth $16,302,777,292.03 were produced, while in 2006, a total of 229,890,166 worth $14,983,197,473.01, were produced. He said in 2007, a total of 202,461,413 barrels worth $15,232,995,318.38 while between January 1 to March 2008 the NNPC produced 47,853,785 worth $4,754,684,156.78.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ed Kashi & Wole Soyinka Discuss the Niger Delta on Al Jazeera

Yesterday Ed appeared on the Riz Khan show on Al Jazeera's English language station. Also on the show was Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian nobel laureate. The topic was oil, the Niger Delta and the political situation in that troubled region.

Click here to watch Part One on YouTube
Click here to watch Part Two on YouTube


NPR News & Notes

July 22, 2008 interview with Ed Kashi and Omoyele Sowore

"This situation is unsustainable. What's going on in the Niger Delta, the perverse relationship between the West, and now increasingly China and India as they need more resources, that this situation, this dynamic is unsustainable. We've got to wake up. We've got to pay attention. Because frankly, oil has a negative impact on the people and on the environment."
-Ed Kashi, excerpt from the interview.

Click here to listen to this 9 minute interview


Monday, July 21, 2008

MEND Offers To Help Free German Hostages

The Times of Nigeria, Sun Jul, 20 2008

Nigeria’s main rebel group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) today said it will assist Nigerian authorities locate and the release two German construction workers help hostage by militants in the oil producing region last week.

In a statement signed by the group’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, MEND said:

“Will intervene towards the release of the two German construction staff of Julius Berger who were ambushed and kidnapped for ransome in Rivers state of Nigeria on Friday July 11, 2008 because from all indications, the inept Nigerian security forces have been unable to make any progress towards their freedom.

“We consider such criminal acts as a duty for the law enforcement agencies as practiced in every part of the world and as a rule, never get involved. However, this case will be an exception to the rule because the men are involved in construction of infrastructure in the Niger Delta region.

“MEND has located and identified the culprits and will begin negotiating with the kidnappers in the hope for a safe and unconditional release of the captives.” The statement said.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Land of Many Colors - American Photo

July 17, 2008 by Jack Crager

Africa has always been a continent of such wild extremes — cultural and geographic, political and demographic — that it defies categorization, lives in its own realm, yet continues to impact the entire planet. These days the land is much in the news as turmoil in the Niger Delta exacerbates the global oil crisis; the U.S. prepares to nominate its first African-American major-party contender; and the world debates war-crimes charges against a sitting president, among other things. All of which serves as a backdrop to an ambitious series of photo exhibitions called Africas, at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, from now to September.

Click here to read the rest of the article.


On BBB: Nigerian activists reject UK plan

Here is an interesting article and Von Kemedi, one of the Nigerian authors in Curse of the Black Gold, is quoted as well.
BBC Story


Thursday, July 17, 2008

FACTBOX-Why unrest in Nigeria's oil heartland matters

July 16 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown meets Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua in London on Wednesday and is expected to discuss ways to help Nigeria tackle lawlessness in its oil-producing Niger Delta.

Below are answers to some questions about the Niger Delta and why it matters to the wider world.

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ed Kashi on CNN Friday the 11th

Take a look at this video of Ed Kashi on CNN from Friday, 11th of July 2008.


Poison Fire - Grassroots Activism

"Poison Fire follows a team of local activists as they gather “video testimonies” from communities on the impact of oils spills and gas flaring. We see creeks full of crude oil, devastated mangrove forests, wellheads that has been leaking gas and oil for months. We meet people whose survival is acutely threatened by the loss of farmland, fishing and drinking water and the health hazards of gas flaring."

This video shows the ineffectiveness of working with a corrupt government and with irresponsible gas companies who will do anything to avoid cleaning up after themselves.

Please watch this 30 minute movie.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ed Kashi and the Importance of Advocacy Journalism

Check out this great article on

Ed Kashi and the Importance of Advocacy Journalism
A crusading photographer takes on the dirtiest subject of his career: oil.

By David Schonauer
July 14, 2008

"Photojournalist Ed Kashi says, "At the tender age of 50 I became what I always wanted to be." Kashi describes his trade as "advocacy journalism." His goal, he says, is to tell visual stories that not only inform viewers but also inspire them to find "activist solutions to social problems." Kashi, a longtime contributor to National Geographic magazine, has earned a reputation as a dogged journalist, covering the plight of the Kurdish people of Iraq and working in troubled areas such as Northern Ireland and the West Bank. But his career breakthrough occurred in 2003, with a project called Aging In America: The Years Ahead. The tender look at the issues of aging was at the forefront of a new approach to photojournalism -- an approach that combined still photography, video documentary, an award-winning book, and a resource-laden website to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Kashi's latest project, about the oil industry of the Niger Delta region of Africa, takes his notion of advocacy journalism to a new level of sophistication"

Click here to see the rest of the article.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Relevant Reuters Article

Nigeria's top building firm pulls out of Niger Delta

By Nick Tattersall

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria's biggest construction firm, Julius Berger JUBR.LG, is pulling out of the oil-producing Niger Delta because of the deteriorating security situation there, a senior company executive said on Saturday.

Gunmen kidnapped two Germans working for the firm, the Nigerian unit of German builder Bilfinger Berger (GBFG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), on Friday, blowing their armoured vehicle off the road with dynamite and killing a soldier in their convoy.

To read the rest of this article, click here.


Africa: The Next Victim in Our Quest for Cheap Oil

Alternet now has an article up about Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years in the Niger Delta which includes an interview with Michael Watts.

"The new book Curse of the Black Gold shows how Nigeria may be the epicenter of the full-blown resource wars to come.

Whether or not we have fully arrived at peak oil can be left to the nitpickers and bean counters to decide. What we know for sure is that the cost of black gold has exponentially risen in just a few short years, and the global economy it is built upon is currently straddling a razor waiting for the inevitable slice. That final cut may come from Nigeria, where all the major oil companies have done business, dirty and otherwise, for the last five decades, degrading the environment and depressing the general population along the way."

Read the rest of the article and an interview with Michael Watts here.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

What is Gordon Brown Thinking?

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this past week made a very disturbing move in regards to Nigeria, showing blind support for the oil companies and the Nigerian Government. Read these articles to learn more. Sad how politics continually trumps good judgment.

The London Independent


Friday, July 11, 2008 - Excellent Norwegian Article

National Geographic photographer Ed Kashi has photographed the oil recovery spin-offs. The result is displayed in the exhibition The Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta at the George Eastman House in Rochester New York.

Read this article in Norwegian

Read the google-translated article in English


Struggle News Worldwide: Nigeria

The Nation’s correspondent in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Isaac Ombe, moved round the communities that produced the first oil wells in the country and examined the infrastructural development in the area and how the residents fare as a result of neglect over the years.

Read the rest here...


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another Idea to Consider

Check out this link that offers another possible solution for the Niger Delta and other oil producing areas for creating a more efficient use of their natural gas. Life Cycle Analysis


Monday, July 7, 2008

Nigeria: A Poem

After listening to NPR's Weekend Edition, "Documenting the Paradox of Oil, Poverty in Nigeria," one young woman felt inspired to write a poem, and email it to Ed Kashi.

Jennifer Takacs is a senior English major at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania where she is involved in such activities as Students for Social Justice, Human Rights Organization, and Habitat for Humanity. She also writes for the underground, independent, student run paper known as "Thought-Crime." Much of her work explores the social and political issues of today, and can be found at this website.

To see the poem,

“Hurry little children run this way, I have got a beast at bay!”

Run from the hills
With skirts billowing and blowing
In a cotton frenzy

Gather all the baskets
Of multi-coloured monies

Pour the suds

Scour the faces of Hamilton, Grant, Franklin
Watch as they disintegrate into a broken and beaten George
Too bad there are no cherry trees here

So watch as the children
Wash their money in oil

Because they have never known water

Slick and black
And full of velvety shine

Mixed and mashed in baby’s formula
The adobe hut is in need of repair

“So you made $600 billion of oil wealth in the past half-century
But for the people in the region, oil has brought dire poverty and a lack of development and fostered government corruption.”

Foster homes full of gypsies
With harpy wings
Sucking gin from the tits of a volcano


Baking tapioca in the flames
Waiting desperately for acid rain
Or an acrid reign

And whichever wish is granted first

Won’t matter

“The average person lives on less than a dollar a day, even though Nigeria takes in $2.2 million a day in oil revenue. And the poor have seen little or no benefit from the spiraling price of crude.”

"If we spend more money here in America or Europe on oil, it has no impact on the people in the Niger Delta, no positive impact," Kashi says. "What it does is just further enriches the power structure, from the government people to the chieftain and tribal leaders who all benefit from the rise of the oil prices."
“Because the United States imports a sizable amount of oil from Nigeria,” he says, “all Americans are consumers of Nigerian energy.”
So fill up your H-Twos, your Subarus, and your SUVs,
Everyone is stuck with the I.V.
Of the gas pump to the gas tank
From the hand that feeds
To the oil that bleeds
Into every American home
The state won’t leave it alone
And every dollar spent
Is another broken neck
And every emitted fume
Destroys another afternoon
But if I built a rocket
Would I go flying away?
From the bright and bold U. S. of A?
Fly up!
"It's important that we understand that connection," Kashi says.
Drink up!
"I feel the days are gone in this world when we can just blithely ignore these kinds of connections because what I see from traveling around the world … is that it's unsustainable.”
Bleed up!
“What's happening in the world today is unsustainable."
We own the sky.

*note: quotes taken from "Documenting The Paradox Of Oil, Poverty In Nigeria"-*

Thanks to
Jennifer for sharing her response with us.


The Naked Option: a last resort

""The Naked Option: a last resort," a feature length documentary film now in production, reveals how local women in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta use “stripping naked”, a serious cultural taboo, to fight environmental and cultural ruin by the world’s most powerful corporate giants.
Fed up with the loss of their livelihoods, their inability to feed their families and the violence that rips through this militarized zone, Niger Delta women are organizing across ethnic boundaries and taking over where men have failed.
At the risk of being raped, beaten or murdered….the women are prepared and armed….but not with anything you can see."

Candace Schermerhorn Productions.

Click here to see the preview for this incredible documentary film.


Have You Had Your Kashi Today?

Thanks to Virginia Swanson for her great blog post, which brought Melissa Lyttle's attention to Ed's Curse of the Black Gold piece and the recent NPR Weekend Edition interview.

APhotoADay asks: Have You Had Your Kashi Today?


Virginia Swanson's Blog

Ms. Swanson, author of The Business of Photography: Principles and Practices, keeps a blog in order "to offer marketing advice to photographers and help them understand essential elements of a career as an visual artist."

She has posted a relevant piece about Ed's recent interview on NPR's Weekend Edition, and has included many useful links.

Click here to see this blog post


Ed Kashi - Portrayed through the lens of the media

The tables have been turned as Ed finds himself and his experiences the subject of an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

“Photojournalist Ed Kashi committed to telling Niger Delta's story - Photojournalist risks his life to capture story of Niger Delta with his camera"
Stuart Low, Democrat and Chronicle, July 7th, 2008

A very dramatic portrait of Ed Kashi and his experiences in the Niger Delta.

Click here to read the article.


NPR Weekend Edition Sunday Interview with Ed Kashi

July 6 – Ed Kashi interview on NPR Weekend Edition Sunday with Liane Hansen.

Click here to listen to this 5 minute interview.

Click here to see the article and excerpts from 'Curse of the Black Gold'

After all, our governments are the stewards of our land, and our resources, and of their people, and, as one Environmentalist in Nigeria actually pointed out, because the politicians are not beholden to being voted into power, and they get their money from the residual monies that come in from the oil industry, there’s a way that they can bypass the people, and they don’t really have to serve them.
-Ed Kashi, excerpts from the interview


George Eastman House Exhibit Highlighted by Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Exhibit at George Eastman House shows Africa's nature, old and new

“It makes no pretense of painting a complete regional portrait. But Kashi's keen sense of outrage may spur you to dig deeper on your own time."
Stuart Low, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 6th, 2008

Click here to read the article


Life from the Left Coast Interview

June 29 – Ed Kashi interview on Life from the Left Coast KPFK Los Angeles with Ian Masters

Click here to listen to this 25 minute interview.

We’ve devoted so much attention and lost lives and spent tremendous amount of money being in the Middle East and Iraq in particular, theoretically to protect oil, while we get a lot more oil from Africa, particularly Nigeria than we do from the Saudis or Iraq. And yet we, as Americans, know very little about this. For me that’s one of the main reasons of doing this book and working on this project, is to wake people up here.
- Ed Kashi, excerpts from the interview

Click here to go to the Life from the Left Coast site.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

EarthBeat Radio Interviews Michael Watts

Michael Watts interviewed on EarthBeat Radio, which aired July 1st, 2008.

Click here to listen to this 30 minute interview!

Some people have referred to oil and gas being a curse…you have to be careful about assuming that there’s something about oil that produces that. It seems to me that it’s the intersection of Big Oil with Big Government, with Big Global Market, that contribute to this high degree of economic and political failure.

-Michael Watts, excerpts from the interview

To hear the entire EarthBeat program, click here.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

George Eastman House Exhibition

The George Eastman House Exhibition, featuring 37 photographs selected from the Curse of the Black Gold book, will be up until September 1st.

Be sure to go see it!

For more information about the Exhibition, go to: GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE


Sunday, June 29, 2008

What's The Real Story?

Last week's attack on a deep sea oil facility off the coast of the Niger Delta is now shrouded in confusion over who actually carried out the attack. One thing is clear, it contributed mightily to the increase in oil prices around the world. It has also created a new level of concern for government and oil security people about how to protect the flow of Nigeria's light, sweet crude to world markets.

Please read this link to learn more... All Africa

And here is the full text...

Attack On Bonga - MEND Reveals How Its Men Carried Out Raid
Vanguard (Lagos)
28 June 2008
Posted to the web 28 June 2008

By Emma Amaize, Kingsley Omonubi And Uduma Kalu

WHO attacked the 60 square- kilometre $3.6b Bonga Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel and deepwater sub-sea facility last week which provoked international outcry?

Was it the militant group, Movement for Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND)? Or was the shut down carried out by internal sabotage led by a naval retired officer?

The poser was that while MEND revealed how their gallant men attacked the floating station, the Nigerian military high command said it was an internal sabotage.

MEND had told local and international media that its men attacked the vessel on Thursday, June 19, by sailing 220 kilometers of opensea without the men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) on the Niger-Delta hearing the sound of their speedboats and observing any strange movement.

The location of the FSPO with a current production of 225,000 barrels of oil per day and a target of raising the country's crude oil production to some four million barrels per day by 2010 is said to have been planned to make it out-of-the-way and impregnable to militants.

The facility is located in the Oil Operating Licence (OPL) 212, approximately 120- kilometer (75 miles) offshore Nigeria, situated in water depths of more than 1,000 meters.

It was also widely speculated that the militants who allegedly carried out the attack had support from some soldiers, who probably turned their eyes the other way while the heavily armed militants zoomed past. MEND had gone ahead to claim responsibility of the attack

The alleged militant attack on the floating production storage and offloading vessel led to the shut-down of 225, 000 per day crude oil output and rise in world price of crude. An American, Capt Jack Stone who works for an oil services company was alleged to have been kidnapped but later released.

So far, the federal government has reacted by sending more troops to the Niger Delta. Shell has also resumed operations at the said station but under the watchful eyes of two naval frigates as guards.

But a new twist has entered into the story, bringing with it an argument on who actually carried out the attack.

However, authoritative sources told Saturday Vanguard that the attack and shut-in of the flow station were actually carried out from within the vessel, and not by MEND.

"It was not a militant action at all," the sources revealed.

The sources debunked the MEND boast that it was the one that attacked the floating station, saying that the incident occurred when about 55 security personnel who are staff of a private security outfit operated by a retired senior military officer (Navy Captain, Course 11 intake) forcefully shut the floating station in protest of Shell's maltreatment.

Their anger, the military source continued, was that for the past three months, in spite of having worked under severe and dangerous conditions to secure the multi-billion dollars investment, Shell refused to pay them their salaries.

The source went on to say that since the private security firm entered into contract with Shell, it was disheartening to see the oil giant reneging on the fulfillment of the contract, especially on payment of salaries.

"So for Shell to come out and deceive the world by claiming that militants were the ones that attacked Bonga floating station which is 122 nautical miles off shore, to cover their shortcoming is to say the least, unpatriotic. In fact, Bonga is so far offshore that no boat, even fast boats normally used by militants can survive, going and coming back alive without encountering Naval Patrol ships," the sourced continued.

But the MEND commander in an exclusive interview with Saturday Vanguard maintained that his organisation launched the attack leading to the shut in. MEND, he said, had attacked the facility to prove that it has the capacity to attack anywhere in the Niger Delta to press for the release of its leader, Henry Okah as well as fight for the development of the Niger Delta region.

"Shell thinks that we are fools. The company sacked a lot of Niger-Deltans from their employment when we are asking for more jobs for our people under the guise of restructuring. But the truth is that they are taking their production off shore, where they think that the military will protect them, that is part of the reason we went there to tell them that no place is safe for them in the Niger-Delta except they realize that they have to give jobs to our people and provide us with development incentives. We are telling them that we know their game plan and that it will not work," he said.

The commander saying that his group has "the map and chart of all the oil facilities in the Niger-Delta," added that it also knows " the topography of the area. It is our homeland, and we are used to the oceans and the terrain."

He told Saturday Vanguard that some Nigerian soldiers came close to one of the MEND camps with eight gunboats on last Tuesday and equally sent a spy plane to its camp. MEND said it gave the soldiers some time to leave the place but they failed. The commander said he therefore went with some of his men to confront and chase the soldiers away.

Also, MEND in an e-mail, dated Wednesday, June 25, signed by Jomo Gbomo on the incident said, "Around 1900Hrs today, Tuesday, June 24, 2008, only 19 Hours away from a Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) unilateral cease-fire aimed at restoring peace, the Nigerian military blocked the channel leading into one of our major camps with eight heavily armed gun boats in preparation for what seemed like a dawn invasion.

"Our fighters headed towards the army position and fired warning shots to leave or be confronted. As our fighters approached the enemy in over fifty war boats, the eight gun boats turned and fled from the area thereby averting a clash and maintaining the on-going cease-fire. MEND reiterates its willingness to respect its unilateral cease-fire but will not hesitate to call it off at the slightest provocation or threat", he warned.

The MEND commander went on to explain that he failed to blow up the station because of human pity on the lives of those on board the vessel. The group, he went on, is not interested in taking people's lives.

"It is one of those things in life. My instructions were clear but I took pity when I remembered that human beings were inside. I have told you that we will cripple the oil facilities in the region if the Federal Government does not develop the Niger-Delta. Our aim is not to kill human being or even take them as hostages, and it is only circumstances that will push one to such an extreme thing. We had no challenge from the military and they cannot match us. And because we have made our point by coming to where they think we cannot get to, I decided to tell the other fighters that we should go. If not, we were armed with enough Rocket Propelled Grenades and other weapons to bring it down."

MEND had stated that its detonation engineers would not spare the facility if it has cause to pay a visit to the facility again.

"To be candid, I left the place without blowing it up because of God and human being, not because of any protective measure or automatic shutdown of the facility in the event of any attack. We know everything about the FPSO before we went there. Nobody should delude himself", he maintained.

Dismissing the proposed Niger Delta summit, the commander called for the release of henry Okah, its leader being held for alleged treasonable offences by the federal government. He also said that Nigerian military cannot match the group in the sea battle.

MEND dismissed the insinuation that the group was not capable of sustaining a fight with the military, hence it hurriedly announced a cease fire after the Bonga field attack, saying, "We made it clear that it was an unilateral ceasefire and this was because the Niger-Delta elders pleaded with us to do so and allow them to take up the issues once again with the Federal Government. They assured us that we have made our point and we should leave them to take our case to the government.

"We told them that we want the government to release Henry Okah if they want peace in the Niger-Delta and that summit is useless with Okah in chains. We know their reasons for their refusal to attend the summit, which is that the solutions to the Niger-Delta crisis had since been proffered and that what is needed is the implementation of the solutions and we share the same view", the source stated

MEND reevaled to Saturday Vanguard that angry youth from the diferent groups of the Niger Delta are now enlisting for training with the organisation, saying that it would declare an oil war if any of its locations were attacked by soldiers.

"We said that any attack on a militant camp or community after Yar'Adua's statement is tantamount to a declaration of war. What the government has failed to realize is that as soon as its offensive begins, all militants, cultist, pirates etc will drop their differences and unite. It is a divide and rule tactics to try and put militants under two categories. We have always prepared for such an eventuality and the armed forces will be disgraced".

On MEND camps recently destroyed by the JTF, the commander said, they were transit camps and had a maximum of say 5-20 rifles and a few men.

"Yet they repelled the JTF who had an advantage of surprise. Size or the latest acquisition of weapons in guerrilla warfare does not mean superiority.... Our strategy is not to confront the army but to play a cat and mouse game and draw them into close hand to hand combat. They have played into our hands so far. The fighters are not afraid of being wiped out instead they are eagerly waiting for action."

The man also touched on the foreigners in MEND camp, saying, "We have always had foreign instructors who are representatives of the weapons supplier or some are there as individuals willing to support a fight against injustice. They will not engage the enemy, but, will always be in the background with the commanders coordinating strategies."

On, Okah's freedom, he explained that the timing of his release is important, adding that if he is "released when the confrontation has reached an advanced stage, then there might be little his release can do but he surely has an influence to ask us to cease-fire."

But the military source explained that the angry security workers who have families to feed felt that the only way to make Shell wake up to the realities on ground was for them to shut the floating station. So it was not a militant action at all. Even the American that was kidnapped was not really kidnapped.

"Mr. Stone who deals in boats and marine transport for staff and expatriates working on the floating station as well as other such flow stations, was just unlucky to be at Bonga at the time the security workers were venting their anger and was asked to stay put until they complete the shut-in. That was why he was let off after the shut-in.

"There was no destruction of equipment of any sort at the Bonga station and this is due to the fact that the shut-in was professionally done. No damage or death was recorded which would have been unusual if their was a shoot-out."


One Reason Gas is Emptying Your Wallet: Nigeria

Please read this interesting piece in today's NYT Week In Review section about Nigeria's impact on world oil prices. It gives important insights into what is also going on in the Niger Delta.

NYT Week in Review

I am also reprising the article in full here:

June 29, 2008
One Reason Gas Is Emptying Your Wallet: Nigeria

When armed rebels from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta attacked an enormous oil facility 75 miles off the swampy West African coast on June 19, traveling hours by speedboat under cover of darkness and kidnapping an oil worker, their brazen assault underlined the perhaps underappreciated dependence of the United States — and the world — on oil from Nigeria.

Three days afterward, Nigerian officials said at a hastily arranged global energy summit in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, that recent attacks had cut Nigeria’s oil production to its lowest level in nearly two decades, giving oil markets the jitters and helping to send prices higher.

The attack also showed that Nigeria’s vast reserves of oil are being held hostage by a conflict that at best is little understood in the West. It is a three-way struggle, involving a government charged with negligence and corruption, oil companies blamed for terrible environmental damage that afflicts the region and an impoverished people.

Some of these people are acting on genuine grievances that they are not getting their fair share of the billions in oil wealth pouring into the country. But others are little more than violent thugs who see a lucrative opportunity among the rusting pipes and plants that dot the creeks and swamps of southern Nigeria not only to steal oil and smuggle it out of the country, but to kidnap foreign oil workers for ransom. The net effect has been that overall production has dropped sharply, largely because oil companies have found it too dangerous to operate in parts of the region.

Unlike the grand geopolitical struggles of Israel versus Iran or the burning oil towers of northern Iraq — some of the factors we usually imagine influencing world oil prices — Nigeria’s is a local tussle. But the events in Nigeria — Africa’s most-populous nation, and the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter, supplying nearly a tenth of America’s oil imports, according to the Department of Energy — have rippled across global energy markets nonetheless, and contributed to tighter supplies and higher prices at American gas pumps. (This is in addition to a long list of other variables, including sharply declining production in Mexico and slowing production in Russia, the North Sea and Venezuela, all in the face of steadily rising demand by fast-growing behemoths like China and India.)

“We always focus on the Persian Gulf but this is one of the key oil security issues in the world today,” said Daniel Yergin, one of the nation’s best-known energy experts and chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consulting firm. “It’s tied up with Nigerian politics, regional and national battles for power, and criminality.” When Mr. Yergin spoke to lawmakers at a hearing in Congress last week, he was asked what would most help stabilize world markets. “Helping bring peace to the Niger Delta would be a major contribution,” he responded.

How does Nigeria — and the world, facing a $140 barrel of oil — get out of this mess?

Shell led the way in exploiting Nigeria’s oil wealth in the 1950s. From those early years on, there were local protests and armed struggles associated with the oil industry. The latest bout of violence led by local militias took off in 2003, with increasing sophistication and effectiveness.

According to J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, the government led by Nigeria’s new president, Umaru Yar’Adua, must break with decades of neglect and pay attention to the troubles of the southern delta region by promoting development but also cracking down on the rebels and “demonstrating that these guys cannot operate with impunity.”

He’s not very optimistic, however. “When you look at the delta, the overwhelming picture is that the situation has very little promise of being fixed,” he said.

The government controls oil revenues and it gives only a fraction back to the desperately poor regions that produce the oil. Even then, according to Chris Albin-Lackey of Human Rights Watch in Nairobi, most of the money is “squandered on white elephant projects” — such as the ones he set out to visit in 2007, a school for the handicapped, a fishpond for small-scale aquaculture and a sports stadium, which he found had either been abandoned or never built. Meanwhile, cash-rich local politicians have played a part in creating the local militia groups because the militants have proved useful as local muscle to take over voting offices and grab ballot boxes to control the periodic elections.

As the damage has mounted and some companies have closed down operations, Nigeria’s oil production has slipped to 1.8 million barrels per day, which is far below its production capacity of about 2.8 million barrels. .

One million barrels of missing oil each day is costly for Nigeria and for the rest of the world when the market is so tight.

The events in Nigeria have an added impact because its oil is especially prized: it is low in sulfur — what is known in the industry as “sweet oil” —“which is really helpful in meeting the sulfur standards we have put in place” in the United States, said Adam Robinson, an oil analyst at Lehman Brothers in New York.

“Nigeria outages barrel for barrel have more of an impact than additional Saudi output,” he said. “Nigeria has been on the minds of traders ever since 2003 and this attack last week was a particular worry because it opened up a new front in the conflict.”

The oil companies have responded by building local amenities like roads, hospitals and schools to win local hearts and minds. The president’s new government came into office early last year saying it would dispatch representatives including the vice president to talk to the protesters in the south.

A special envoy from the United Nations, Ibrahim Gambari, a Nigerian, is convening a meeting later this summer to bring together the national and local governments, oil companies and local communities.

“I believe it can be solved,” he said, in an interview. “The criminals can be isolated and the legitimate demands addressed.”

But the problem, said John van Schaik, an oil analyst for Energy Intelligence, a publisher of industry newsletters, is that as long as oil prices remain high, the rebels recognize the power they have and are not likely to give it up. And the rebels are one reason prices are likely to remain high.


Is This True About the Bonga Fields Shut Down?

The Vanguard

Shocking! bonga oil floating station was shut-in by security workers, not MEND militants

Written by Kingley Omonobi
Saturday, 28 June 2008

Exactly a week after the alleged militant attack on the Shell operated Bonga floating production storage and offloading vessel, leading to the shut-down of 225, 000 per day crude oil output and rise in world price of crude, Vanguard can report authoritatively that the attack and shut-in of the flow station was actually carried out from within the vessel.

Recall that last Thursday 19th June, the Bonga floating station was shut-in following alleged attack by Mend militants while an American, Capt Jack Stone who works for an oil services company was kidnapped and later released.

However, military sources told Vanguard at the weekend that the incident occurred when security personnel numbering about 55 who are staff of a privately owned security outfit operated by a retired senior military officer (Navy Captain, Course 11 intake) forcefully shut the floating station in protest of Shell’s maltreatment.

Their grouse was that for the past three months, inspite of having worked under severe and dangerous conditions, day and night offshore, to secure the multi-billion dollars investment, Shell refused to pay them their salaries.

Explaining further, the source said since the private security firm entered into contract with Shell, it was disheartening to see the oil giants reneging on the fulfillment of the contract particularly as it relate to payment of salaries.

“So for Shell to come out and deceive the world by claiming that militants were the ones that attacked Bonga floating station which is 122 nautical miles off shore, to cover their shortcoming is to say the least, unpatriotic. Infact, Bonga is so far offshore that no boat, even fast boats normally used by militants can survive, going and coming back alive without encountering Naval Patrol ships”.

The source continued, “These angry security workers who have families to feed felt that the only way to make Shell wake up to the realities on ground, was for them to shut the floating station. So it was not a militant action at all. Even the American that was kidnapped was not really kidnapped”.

“Mr. Stone who deals in boats and marine transport for staff and expatriates working on the floating station as well as other such flow stations, was just unlucky to be at Bonga at the time the security workers were venting their anger and was asked to stay put until they complete the shut-in. That was why he was let off after the shut-in”.

Emphasizing that the shut_in was not due to any militant attack, the source said, “There was no destruction of equipment of any sort at the Bonga station and this is due to the fact that the shut_in was professionally done. No damage or death was recorded which would have been unusual if their was a shoot_out. And if there had been a shootout, radar’s of Naval patrol ships would have picked them up”.

Asked to comment on the reaction of the Nigerian military that immediately follwed when the incident was reported, the source said precautionary measures had to be taken to forestall any further attacks assuming it was true, before proper investigations commenced.

On whether Shell has paid the security workers their salaries to enable work resume on the oil vessel, the source said he could not comment on that as negotiations were on going between both parties emphasizing however that Shell was in the habit of causing unnecessary crisis in the Niger Delta to put the country in bad light.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Country Flared $72bn Gas in 36 Years, Says NGA

Daily Trust (Abuja)
27 June 2008
Posted to the web 27 June 2008

By Hamisu Muhammad
Nigeria's inability to stop gas flaring by oil companies, has cost the nation $72 billion (about N8.4 trillion) in three decades, a data released by the Nigeria Gas Association (NGA), has revealed.
The data shows that between 1970 and 2006 Nigeria lost some $72 billion as a result of gas flaring at an average of $2.5 billion per annum.

At the NGA's 2nd Business Forum in Abuja yesterday, the President of NGA, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, who released the data said the level of flaring in the country is on the average of 1.2 Trillion Cubic feet of gas annually.
The government set January 1, this year for all oil companies to stop gas flaring but the dateline has been shifted to December.
Engr. Ogiemwonyi who is also the Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said when the wider effect of the environmental, economy and social consequences are factored in, "we could potentially be discussing numbers in the region of $150 billion in real terms".

He said after 50 years of oil production most of the country's producing fields are characterized by routine flares with "little visible efforts" to take out the flares in the near future.
He said the operators have consistently feared the risk of oil shut-in when asked to implement gas flare saying that the oil producing companies have claimed that about 870,000 barrels of oil will be shut-in amounting to a revenue loss of billions of dollars.

Engr. Ogiemwonyi, who is also the immediate past Managing Director of the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), said what Nigeria needs are capital project implementation towards gas flare down as demonstrated by Nigeria's Liquefied Natural Gas, Condensate recovery, gas gathering and gas re-injection project among others.
"We expect that operating companies will quickly aligned with government in realizing the Nigerian Gas Mater Plan and vision the Master Plan as the catalyst to realizing that potential of gas as a great enabler towards Nigeria's growth aspirations"

Also speaking, Minister of State for Energy (Gas), Mr. Emmanuel Odusina, said under the Gas Master Plan, there is a proposal for three backbone gas transmission system which will be operated independently, but will be interconnected to form a gas grid.

"The South-North transmission system comprises of 1135 km of 45-inch pipeline system originating from Akwa-Ibom/Calabar Central Processing Facility (CFP), traversing Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kano and Kaduna State via Ajaokuta and Abuja".


Progressive Forum - KPFT Interview with Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi interview on KPFT’s “Progressive Forum” in Houston.

Click here to listen to the 40 minute interview!

It’s a perverse situation. So, MEND stages an attack tonight. Tomorrow the price of oil goes up around the world. Well, the oil companies make more money, the Nigerian government makes more money, and MEND makes more money because they get a lot of their funding through stealing or what they call “bunkering” oil, so it’s a very perverse situation, where there really is no “good guy.”

- Ed Kashi, excerpts from the interview


How YOU Can Help...

People often ask how they can help, and here are two links that can help answer this important question.

You can become well versed in the current issues by listening to a Webcast about H.R. 6066, the Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Act, which would require oil, gas, and mining companies listed on U.S. exchanges to publicly disclose the payments they make to the governments of the countries from which those resources are extracted. Click Here to learn more.

You can take a look at Oxfam's website. Oxfam America is an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. Click Here to learn more about Oxfam.


Si vous pouvez lire des Français...

If you can read French, these links to Media Part Journal are for you.
La malédiction de l'or noir dans le delta du Niger
Part 1:
La fin du pétrole 1 : chambardement chez les pays producteurs
Part 2:
La fin du pétrole 2 : face au défi des pays émergents


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Check out Sven's Blog on Daily Kos

My friend Sven Eberlein has posted a mention of Curse of the Black Gold on his vibrant blog...check it out!



Great Idea From a Reader

Dear Mr. Kashi and Dr. Watts --

I became aware of your work from Mr. Kashi's recent interview on
Public Radio International, and subsequently spent some time on your
web site. Thank you for a revealing, and moving, look at a part of
the world that I've heard much about but had always seemed very

I know that this must be a busy time, but I've had a question on my
mind for over a year now, without knowing where to turn for an
answer. If either of you have a moment -

After reading an article on the unrest in the Niger delta, some
friends and I were discussing the problems associated with the
enormous gas flares. Given that there are generators on the market
right now that can operate directly on wellhead gas (just attach
them to the flare pipe) and that they are relatively affordable, and
would pay for themselves in electricity, I wonder that there has not
been incentive for the oil companies to install them.

Failing that, I wonder that there has not been outside pressure, or
that NGOs working in the area have not raised money to purchase
them. It seems a clear win from any angle - reducing flares, and
providing power to the local region (or reducing demand from oil
producers on the local grid).

A word about myself: I am not associated with any generator company
or NGO. I've worked as an IT consultant in the San Francisco Bay
Area for many years, punctuated by long stretches of travelling
abroad. This inquiry stems from sheer curiosity (though I will admit
that I am looking for a life transition and would love to find, or
create, a beneficial project, especially one that would generate
power from wasted resources while improving people's lives).

FYI, here are the generators which I mentioned: Capstone Turbines
Just connect them to the pipe providing the flare gas, and turn
them on. Other companies provide similar products. True, there is an
initial investment ranging anywhere from several hundred thousand to
much more, depending on shipping and install costs, but with a
guaranteed return, that should not be difficult to raise. In this
case, the old adage is true: the more you spend, the more you
(eventually) save.

I'd been wondering where I might find someone who could provide an
off-the-cuff assessment of whether this idea is at all viable, or
whether there is some obvious, insurmountable obstacle. Besides
money, difficult political situation, and (presumably) difficult
relations with the oil companies, that is...

Any response, or guidance you that could offer, would be very much

Again, congratulations on the book (I've just ordered a copy and
look forward to reading it) and for raising awareness on this vital
part of the world.


Jeff Herzbach


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

KPFA's Morning Show

On Monday, June 23rd, 2008 KPFA's Morning Show interviewed Michael Watts about Curse of the Black Gold. 


Monday, June 23, 2008

Will the Center Hold?

MEND launched an extraordinary and audacious attack on June 19th 2008.  Three speedboats and around 30 armed militants overran Shell's massive floating production storage and offloading vessel 75 miles offshore in the heart of the Bonga oil and gas field, the largest Nigerian field developed at a cost of over $3.6 billion.  This act meant that 10% of Nigerian oil was been shut-in, on top of the 350-400,00 barrels already shut in by previous attacks.  

Once again MEND have shown how they can live up to their threats - to close significant oil operations at will. Furthermore, this can only be seen as (another)  humiliation of the Nigerian security forces who allegedly protect such assets.  The Nigerian President Yar' Adua promised retaliation and further militarization. Yet on June 21st a Chevron pipe-line was detonated near Escravos and another 120,00 barrels have been compromised.   A proposed Niger delta summit led by a senior Nigerian diplomat is seriously foundering and a number of key activists, leaders and militants have refused to participate.  In short, things are looking very rocky.  Much of the enthusiasm and hope that attended the appointment of a Niger delta politician - Goodluck Jonathan - as Vice President last June has evaporated quickly.  Last summer's truce declared by MEND unravelled and the so-called Peace Committee deliberations had fallen apart by November 2007.  In response to a call for a ceasefire from Niger delta elders, MEND has now declared from June 24th yet another truce.  But what is the likelihood that the government will seriously negotiate and be able to meet many of the conditions tabled by MEND over the last 18 months?  With the attack on Bonga - a massive investment which has already received some protection from the American naval forces of the European command (see my piece with Paul Lubeck and Ronnie Lipschitz on the Center for International Policy website entitled "Convergent Interests") - the Nigerian government (currently providing 15% of US oil imports, almost wholly high quality 'sweet crude' for the gasoline market) will be under enormous pressure to further militarise the Niger delta (on and off shore) to ensure a regular flow of oil and gas at a moment of unprecedented tightness in global markets.   This would of course be a huge provocation to MEND (and a confirmation of what they have been saying about the American imperial search for oil) and the destabilizing effects in a region in which heavily armed militants number, according to some sources,  over 25,000,  would be disastrous.  There was a small window last summer for something productive to happen in the tense negotiations between government and militants, and in the struggle over who gets to control Nigerian oil.  That window is closing, and with it the prospects of any stability in the global oil market......and in the fractious community that is the Nigerian polity.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

MEND Attacks Deep Offshore Rig

The news this week was potentially quite big. The fact that MEND staged such a dramatic attack 70 miles offshore will create concern and action from the Nigerian government and security forces. My concern is that it might lead to greater covert involvement by America's military to protect Nigeria's vital oil supply. We must keep a keen eye to this situation and hope it resolves itself as peacefully as possible. But, clearly MEND is raising the ante and the stakes are growing day by day.

Here is the link to the New York Times story about this incident:

Bonga Oil Field Attack

And here is the communique that was sent out by MEND's spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo;

On Thursday, June 19, 2008, at 0045 Hrs, gallant fighters from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) overran the supposedly fortified Bonga offshore oil fields operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company.

The main computerized control room responsible for coordinating the entire crude oil export operations from the fields was our main target. Our detonation engineers could not gain access to blow it up but decided against smoking out the occupants by burning down the facility to avoid loss of life.

However, our next visit will be different as the facility will not be spared. We therefore ask all workers in the Bonga fields to evacuate for their safety as the military can not protect them.

In order that the Nigerian military does not pass off this humiliating breach as another "accident", an American, Captain Jack Stone from an oil services company, Tidex has been captured.

This man was supposed to only be released in exchange for all Niger Delta hostages being held in northern Nigeria by the Nigerian government. Because the criminals in the government and state security want to use this opportunity to make money from ransom, we have decided he will be released in the coming hours.

The location for today's attack was deliberately chosen to remove any notion that off-shore oil exploration is far from our reach. The oil companies and their collaborators do not have any place to hide in conducting their nefarious activities.

We use this opportunity to ask the oil majors to evacuate their expatriate staff from Nigeria until the issues in the Niger Delta have been addressed and resolved.

Oil and gas tankers are also warned to avoid Nigerian waters. They stand the risk of laden crude oil or natural gas tankers being attacked.

Jomo Gbomo


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nice Link to British Blog

Adam..thanks for this link!

Adam Sutcliffe


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Curse Website Live!

The new website for Curse of the Black Gold is now officially live!

Please visit Curse of the Black Gold and let us know what you think!


Interview with Ed Kashi on PRI's The World

Ed Kashi did an interview with Lisa Mullins on Wednesday, June 11.

Please visit The World to listen to the interview.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

San Francisco Board of Supervisors vs. Chevron

Please note that on June 10th at 5pm at San Francisco City Hall on Van Ness (off Civic Center BART), while the SF Board of Supervisors considers adopting a resolution condemning Chevron for global abuses, you can go there to make your voices heard.

Please come in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Nigeria who daily live with the impacts of this company that is earning record multibillion dollar profits, while destroying the ability for local residents to live a simple subsistence lifestyle.

Here is the Resolution that the Board of Supervisors is considering...thank you.


CONTACTS: Simeon Tegel: 510-962-0195; Mitch Anderson: 415-342-4783

San Francisco Board of Supervisors to Vote on Resolution Condemning Chevron’s Abuses Worldwide

Resolution Criticizes Chevron’s Profiteering in Iraq, Nigeria Slayings and Ecuador Disaster

San Francisco -—-- The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is to vote on a resolution condemning Chevron for its disturbing record of human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world.

Citing transgressions including profiteering from the Iraq war, the dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater in an inhabited area of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and complicity in the slayings of peaceful protestors in Nigeria, the resolution was filed today by Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi and Aaron Peskin.

It “condemns Chevron Corporation for a systematic pattern of socially irresponsible activities and complicity in human rights violations that is at odds with the values of the citizens of San Francisco, and at odds with the standards of ethical conduct those citizens expect from corporations based in the Bay Area, in our own communities as well as abroad.”

The resolution is due to be voted on next Tuesday, June 10th. It is regarded as unusual for the Board of Supervisors to adopt resolutions criticizing specific companies. Based in San Ramon, Chevron is the second largest US oil major and one of Northern California’s largest corporations. The resolution reflects a groundswell of public opinion in the Bay Area against the apparently systemic nature of Chevron’s flouting of basic human rights and environmental norms and legislation in numerous countries where it operates.

In a joint written statement introducing the resolution, the four Supervisors said they “condemn Chevron for its consistent, systematic pattern of environmental destruction and complicity in human rights violations; and to demand that Chevron serve as a better ambassador for the Bay Area around the world, by conducting business in accordance with the values that our citizens hold dear.”

The proposed San Francisco resolution follows another resolution adopted by the City of Berkeley in January to boycott Chevron products. “We expect there to be a growing number of similar resolutions adopted by cities across the US, condemning Chevron and calling on the company to clean up its act,” said Amazon Watch campaigner Mitch Anderson.

He added: “The fact that this resolution is now being voted on in Chevron’s own backyard, shows how Chevron CEO David O’Reilly has brought the company to the brink of losing its social license to operate. We hope the San Francisco resolution sends a strong message to all senior executives in San Ramon that the company needs to move out of denial of its human rights and environmental violations and start acting like a responsible corporate citizen.”

Chevron’s human rights and environmental issues cited in the resolution include:

Burma: Chevron’s Yadana pipeline has provided revenues that have propped up the country’s repressive military dictatorship, while security forces guarding the pipeline have been accused of rape, murder and forced labor. The pipeline has also had significant direct and indirect environmental impacts on the Tenassirm region, one of the largest surviving tracts of tropical rainforest in Southeast Asia, including illegal logging, fishing and poaching. Meanwhile, the pipeline has exacerbated the human rights abuses perpetrated by Burmese security forces against the region’s Mon, Karen and Tavoyans indigenous peoples. Naw Musi, a Karen woman who lives in exile, attended the shareholder’s meeting.

Ecuador: Chevron is accused of causing the most extensive oil-related contamination on the planet. Chevron had admitted to deliberately dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways and abandoning almost 1,000 open-air toxic waste pits, leading to the decimation of indigenous groups. A court-appointed special master recently found 428 deaths from cancer in the region related to Chevron’s oil operations. In addition, community leaders heading the lawsuit have been subject to death threats, office break-ins, and assaults that have resulted in protective measures being ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Iraq: Chevron has been a leading player in the Iraqi oil sector since the US occupation of Iraq. It was one of the first companies to win contracts in Iraq after the US attack on the country despite the absence of a democratically-elected government in the war-torn country possessing a genuine popular mandate to negotiate regarding Iraq’s natural resources. If the Bush-approved Iraqi Oil Law, effectively a privatization of Iraq’s oil reserves, is approved, Chevron is also expected to be one of the principal beneficiaries.

Nigeria: Security forces flown in and closely supervised by Chevron Nigeria shot nonviolent environmental protestors in an infamous case that will be the focus of two trials in San Francisco later this year. Two people died, several others were injured and some survivors of the attack were then tortured in a Nigerian jail. One decade after the incident, and after years of legal wrangling in American courts, Chevron management has yet to compensate the families of those killed and injured or resolve the original issues raised by the community.

Philippines: In Pandacan, Philippines, oil depots partially owned by Chevron threaten the health and safety of over 84,000 residents. In February 2008, following a deadly tanker explosion, the Philippine Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision to uphold a city ordinance forcing closure and relocation of the oil depots, citing the need to protect residents from "catastrophic devastation." Despite community opposition to the depots, Chevron has yet to comply;

United States: In Richmond, in the East Bay, 35,000 families live in the shadow of a Chevron refinery that spewed out three million pounds of contaminants during the last three years. Existing pollution from Chevron already causes premature death, cancer, and other health ailments. Richmond asthma rates are 5 times the state level. Now Chevron wants to expand the refinery, allowing it to process both more and dirtier crude oil, despite overwhelming opposition from local residents. Most of the people who live in the area are minorities, leading to charges of environmental racism.

Bay Area groups supporting the resolution include: Amazon Watch, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Burmese American Democratic Alliance, Center for Environmental Health, Communities for a Better Environment, Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity, Forest Ethics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Global Exchange, GreenAction for Health and Environmental Justice, International Accountability Project, International Rivers, Justice in Nigeria Now, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, and Rainforest Action Network.