Nigeria: November 24, 2003


More on the ChevronTexaco hostage incident - the pirates put up more of a fight than usual when the Nigerian warship NNS Kyanwa swooped down on them. One was killed and a Chevron employee was seriously wounded in the course of the operation

The well-armed river pirates are becoming so prolific that local law enforcement is choosing discretion over valor. Police in Nigeria's Bayelsa State narrowly avoided combat with some of them on the 9th. The police began to mobilize for an assault on a group sighted on the Forcados River, when they were allegedly warned by local villagers that the "pirates" were really political thugs abandoned by their patrons and carrying weapons given to them by the military. However, the cops can't be blamed for be cautious, considering that eight policemen were mowed down on November 4.

Back in October, Nigeria created "Youth Vigilante" groups to combat piracy and pipeline vandalism, in the hope that peer pressure would limit other criminals. The groups supplement marine police patrols, which themselves were created to supplement failed Navy units' attempts to control crime on the area's waterways.

What effect does this have on America? The Nigerian oil platform drama (along with the multiple explosions in Istanbul, Turkey and reports of a possible decline in US crude oil stocks) sent oil prices to a high $32.92 per barrel at the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, OPEC's Secretary General said the group will produce a half million barrels more per day per day, if prices remain above the $22-$28 a barrel band or drop it by the same volume if prices fell below the $22 mark. - Adam Geibel


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