Over the years, one of the most common oil-related stories has been the one about Nigerian rebels blowing up a pipeline or damaging some facility. Anytime oil spikes, really, and there’s no other good explanation, that’s usually the one they go to. It is a fact of life of doing business in Nigeria.
So now Nigeria and Shell have hit upon a novel idea: Buy the rebels off!
FT: Nigeria plans to transfer 10 per cent of all its oil and gas ventures to the inhabitants of the oil-producing Niger Delta, in a multi-billion-dollar bid to end the rebellion that has for years hampered production in sub-Saharan Africa’s leading energy supplier.
The initiative, which comes against the backdrop of a sweeping attempt to overhaul Nigeria’s oil industry, would if approved by parliament signal a bold new phase in the government’s efforts to broker a lasting settlement in the delta.
It sounds like it could work, and activists have been complaining for years that people are robbed of the wealth from their natural resources by large multinational corporations coming in. But that’s not exactly right. The thiefs are the corrupt governments that sell them out, and there’s not a whole lot that can be done about this. Even in this case, what does it mean that 10% of the venture will be owned by the people? Will cash literally be disbursed door to door, or will it be held by some “benign,” public trust, in which case you can expect this to solve nothing at all.
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