BMEWS
 
Sarah Palin will pry your Klondike bar from your cold dead fingers.

calendar   Saturday - July 05, 2008

Drilling for bias, not getting a big hit for once. Good.

Hey, let’s blame big oil because african savages ... act like savages. And african governments are corrupt thieves who don’t give a phoot about their citizens. That’s my instant reaction seeing the headline.



Nigeria’s first oil well is still source of woe

... here it comes. Get out your nose plugs ...

OIL WELL NO. 1, Nigeria - Three decades after pumping its last drop, the first oil well in Nigeria is marked by a decrepit signboard bearing what would seem an uncontroversial statement:

Oloibiri Well No. 1, drilled June 1956, 12,008 feet.

But this well, furred with rust, is at the center of an increasingly vitriolic feud between two villages over who owns the land beneath it. The conflict is fed by hopes that soaring prices will tempt big business to squeeze more oil from the well and give a pittance to the village that owns the land.

Hmm. Starts out dire enough. The oil is gone and the two villages (tribes) are fighting over the possibilities of a couple pennies. But wait, there’s more!

The tussle between Oloibiri and Otabagi brings into stark relief how villages that sit on the prodigious oil reserves in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest producer of crude, have barely profited from the booming industry. Corrupt officials have hoarded the government’s cut of profits, and energy firms have compensated locals with paltry payments worth a fraction of the hundreds of billions generated by drilling.

In both villages, children wander unclothed past heaps of burning trash. Oil spills have sullied the farmlands and spoiled the water. Fields once crammed with ears of corn, and nets full of flapping fish, have become distant memories.

Because the big bad oil companies had to make deals with the government and not the land owners, because Nigeria is a Socialist State and not a free market? And when the villagers had some oil money coming in they got lazy and didn’t bother to fish and farm anymore? Yes, I can see this is all Big Oils fault. Probably Bush’s fault too. Let’s see where the article goes.

“After destroying the area without anything to give in return, we have stepped maybe 50 times backwards. Pollution, both air and water,” said Sunday Ikpesu, a sprightly 74-year-old Oloibiri chieftain. “We didn’t know crude oil was such a bad thing.”

Oh, you betcha. Big Oil is the culprit. And of course, the underlying theme is that drilling - in this case, with technology 52 years out of date - will rape the land and destroy the people. Funny, I didn’t know that Royal Dutch Shell actually stole the oil. I’m pretty sure they paid for it. So, where did the money go, if not to these lazy victims villagers? What, the corrupt government stole it all? How could that be, in such a natural Worker’s Paradise?

Neither village would win a share of the actual revenues that might flow from Oil Well No. 1. The most they could expect from Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which owns the rights to the well, would be “community outreach” funds for building projects.

But in a nation where the government has regularly failed to provide citizens with health clinics, decent schools, pipe-borne water or electricity, the scraps that oil giants throw the locals’ way are considered better than nothing — and subject to fierce competition.

Riiiight. Fight like dogs over the scraps, but don’t do a thing to fix the real problem.

Firms such as ExxonMobil Corp., Total SA and Chevron Corp. employ teams of community relations officers whose jobs include launching development projects worth tens of millions of dollars. No overall figures exist for these payments. But Shell, the country’s largest operator, says operations it runs contributed more than $110 million in 2007.

Rights campaigners say oil firms are sowing discord among villages and exploiting their desperation.

“The oil industry does not take time to find ways ... to support a consensus-building process under which all communities come together and agree,” said Dimieari Von Kemedi, a local activist. The benefits they give are “laughable ... compared to the amount of money that comes out of these oil wells.”

Um, why should they? They’re in business to make money, not to perform nation building. They’re paying billions for the product to somebody, so maybe you starving whiners are barking up the wrong tree? Maybe it’s time to stand up for yourselves a little bit? Hell no. Not in africa. (no capitalization. they don’t deserve it)

Shell didn’t comment on the village conflict and doesn’t publicly announce its operating plans. Oil industry workers vigorously defend the community payments, calling them charitable donations to needy people.

They also argue that oil companies can’t take over the long-term responsibilities of the Nigerian government, which claims the majority of the proceeds stemming from the oil industry.

Critics acknowledge the oil firms have no legal obligation to provide services to Nigeria’s people. But they say the outreach efforts ignore the realities of the people they’re purportedly trying to help.

Schools are built, but no teachers hired. Health care facilities have no long-term access to drugs. So-called “security” teams, hired to protect oil installations, are little more than youths bribed not to vandalize the gear, the activists say.

Excuse me, is this Nigeria, or the People’s Republik of Shell? Just who do you think is in charge of such things as hiring teachers and doctors and so forth for the nation? Don’t give me this “simple natives taken advantage of by the white man” bullshit. This is the 21st century. They have cell phones and internet even in the jungle. Time to step up to the plate, Umbugungu.

Perhaps most damaging has been the tendency to dole out benefits to the inhabitants closest to sensitive oil machinery, which has undermined community leadership schemes and pitted people and communities against each other for the payments. Dozens of violent flare-ups can be attributed to conflict over oil company payments in recent years.

The feud over Nigeria’s first oil well is a typical illustration.

Already, scuffles and heated arguments have been reported near the well, an omen of worse violence to come. Villagers say they don’t feel welcome among their neighbors, even though they share farmlands and river waters used for drinking and cleaning.

The villagers of Oloibiri and Otabagi have little money to launch a court battle. Any successful outcome would likely be through mediation by a headman of the traditional Ogbia kingdom, of which both towns are part, said Von Dimieari.


Headmen? Traditional kingdoms? What, you’re telling me that even after 52 years of tons of foreign money pumping up the nation, plus independence, you haven’t advanced Step One past tribalism? Well tattoo my face and stick a bone through my nose, I’m done.

That was as early as the 1930s, when Nigeria was a British colony governed by the “Native Administration” and Christian missionaries schooled the few indigenous people given English-language instruction.

Traditional land-transfer practices differed from Western-style sales, from one sovereign party to another. Written records were almost never kept, with leaders passing down history and community boundaries through an oral tradition.

By the 1950s, Oloibiri boasted a postal exchange and an Anglican church run by English missionaries. It was the seat of operations for the exploration team of what would later become Royal Dutch Shell.

The explorers found what they were looking for in the 1950s and sometime during that period, the Oloibiri villagers say, they signed a contract with some Shell employees giving them access to the area around what would become Well No. 1. They say this proves that the people of Oloibiri are the rightful owners. But no copies of the pact appear to exist.

In 1958, the first oil began to flow. Villagers here live only into their 40s on average, but the few still around remember a huge party.

The Shell team brought out long tables, they remember, and more European-style beer than anyone had ever seen.

“They made a heavy party that day,” recalls 60-year-old Edwin Ofonih of Oloibiri village. “Everyone drank until nonsense.”

A half-century later, the villagers live in poverty while oil giants have carted off the riches from beneath their feet and officials head overseas for health care and recreation.

There you have it. They’ve been robbed!! Uh, no, no they haven’t. They’ve been screwed by their own government, and screwed by their idiotic clinging to tribalism. They’ve screwed themselves too. But let’s not blame Big Oil for this one. They’re the people who paid Nigeria billions over the years.

This is the typical story out of africa. Natives “taken advantage of” by evil white business. You have read Kim’s essay, right? As far as I’m concerned it should be graven in stone.

And to be fair and balanced, this article didn’t really blame the oil companies all that much. But it did point out that things just never get better in africa. Maybe that’s why we won’t fight a war there. It just isn’t worth it, no matter what the cause or reason. In the end, it will go right on being africa, a shithole so vile even early hominids knew enough to leave.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/05/2008 at 08:12 PM   
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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