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.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

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