2008: Government attempts to negotiate
peace deals, in the oil rich Niger delta, with tribal rebel groups like MEND,
ignore the fact that more and more of the violence is generated by smaller,
independent, and purely criminal gangs. These independents are interested in
striking it rich stealing oil from pipelines, or kidnapping foreigners or rich
Nigerians (or, as in a recent case, the brother of a wealthy Nigerian football
player, who was living and playing in Britain.)
2008: Two German oil engineers were
kidnapped at Port Harcourt. Their employer, a major German oil firm, threatened
to pull out of Nigeria if this sort of violence was not halted.
off the coast, the navy halted and seized an oil tanker carrying about a
million barrels of stolen oil. This is a new development, because in the past
the oil thieves had moved their oil to neighboring countries (for sale to shady
oil brokers) via barges and small ships. It was a bold and dangerous move to try
and use an ocean going tanker for this. But the stolen oil business is booming,
with over $5 billion worth of oil a year being stolen. This is sold at a
discount to smugglers, who get it to neighboring countries for sale to brokers.
The actual thieves, who punch holes in pipelines and collect the oil in buckets
and in tanks in the backs of trucks, get about ten cents on the dollar (of the
world price of oil). But that means the pipeline tapping gangs are getting over
half a billion dollars a year. That's big money for impoverished tribesmen, and
pays for new SUVs, trucks, clothes, guns and aggressive attitudes.
2008: MEND said it was abandoning its
ceasefire, and resuming attacks on oil facilities.
2008: Hundreds of police reinforcements
were sent to the southeast, where tribal battles over land has left nearly a
hundred people dead or wounded.