Black gold, darker than night

Vanity Fair’s Sebastian Banger discusses the depraved conditions of the Niger delta, where plentiful oil is both a blessing and a curse. As US oil companies pump the light sweet crude, corrupt government officials embezzle over $300 billion of oil revenue, while delta Nigerians live in polluted squalor, without medicine or fresh water.

Many resort to bribes and bunkering (oil theft); even poorly-paid military are often on the take. Some of the disenfranchised have decided to resort to violence. Meanwhile worried oil experts around the world observe how the actions of twenty militants in speedboats can cause a gas-thirsty North America to slide into a recession:

“Every sector of society has been left to fend for itself. The airline industry, for example, is so slack in its maintenance that it has seen three catastrophic plane crashes in the past 16 months, which together have killed more than 300 people. The airport at Port Harcourt was shut down in 2005 after an incoming Air France flight plowed into a herd of cows that had wandered onto the runway; it still has not reopened. Tens of millions of people live in urban slums without water or sanitation, restaurants have to hire guards with AK-47s to protect the diners, and the levels of chaos and street violence rival that of many countries at war. A dead man lay on the street near my hotel for two days before someone finally came to take him away.”

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