Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The First Modern Oil War?

An oil war that has been simmering for months is in danger of breaking out into full-scale hostilities in Nigeria's oil-rich delta region. BBC reports:
A Nigerian militant commander in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta has told the BBC his group is declaring "total war" on all foreign oil interests.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has given oil companies and their employees until midnight on Friday night to leave the region.

It recently blew up two oil pipelines, held four foreign oil workers hostage and sabotaged two major oilfields.
Nigeria is the largest oil exporter, and America's fifth largest source of oil. MEND wants foreign producers out, including Shell and Chevron, which have large operations there.

The militants are talking big:
"Any part of Nigeria, wherever we have the opportunity to strike any target, we will strike," said militia leader Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, who heads the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force. (source)
There is serious doubt they have the clout to do little more than disrupt oil operations. But in a country packed with desperately poor people who are receiving no benefit from Nigeria's oil wealth, Dokubo-Asari's forces could create quite a bit of political mischief.

This skirmish is really a battle between a pack of rag-tag criminals who steal oil and hawk it for profit, and a pack of more polished government criminals who pump oil and hawk it for profit.

But wars don't often end up where they started, and any oil war in our troubled and oil-dependent world is something worth watching carefully.

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