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Money talks? No… Oil talks.

Oil politics will dominate the news for the next few years as developing nations like Iraq, Somalia and Nigeria continue to attempt to resist Western domination and exploitation of their resources. With widening perception throughout the world that the war in Iraq is almost entirely about oil, such peoples are now realizing what it is that gets our attention. The West’s addiction to fossil fuels may ultimately be our downfall, forcing America to extend her empire with further attempts at military conquest until it is stretched too thin..

For now, the rats are leaving the sinking ship in Nigeria.

As Bush said, we are not at war with Islam. But by the time the decade is out, they might well be at war with us.



French Oil Company Shuts Down in Turbulent Nigerian Delta By REUTERS

WARRI, Nigeria, March 22 — The French company TotalFinaElf shut its oil production facilities in Nigeria’s western delta and evacuated workers today because of spiraling tribal unrest in the area, company officials said.

“We decided to shut our production and evacuate the area because of the deteriorating situation,” a company official said in Lagos.

In the same region, other workers were stranded in a major ChevronTexaco oil export terminal as angry villagers prevented them from leaving, industry sources said.

The leaders of the Ijaw ethnic group, which has been clashing with the army since Thursday, raised estimates of their death toll from 14 to 58, all killed, they said, in army raids on villages.

At least 55 others have died, including 10 soldiers, in the political and ethnic violence, tribal leaders and security sources said.

A helicopter was seen landing in the oil city of Warri, bringing the first group of workers fleeing fighting in oil fields around the Escravos export terminal. The group was accompanied by armed soldiers.

Company officials said the helicopters were ferrying workers from the Opumami tank farm, the French oil company’s most important facility in the Obodo district, where it produces 7,500 barrels of crude a day.

But there was no immediate official confirmation that militants had set fire to part of the tank farm.

“We are still getting reports from the area,” the Lagos-based official said.

A surge in ethnic conflict in the Nigerian delta has forced Shell and ChevronTexaco to shut down their oil operations. The two companies, which have declared force majeure on some export commitments, say they were losing 315,000 barrels a day of crude, or 16 percent of Nigeria’s output.

The Niger delta, which accounts for most of Nigeria’s crude output of two million barrels per day, has been on the boil for years, with oil multinationals getting caught in a deadly struggle for oil benefits by local ethnic groups.

The latest flare-up pits ethnic Itsekiri against the Ijaw, who are leading a campaign in the delta for a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth. The increasingly violent campaign has added to nationwide political unrest threatening elections next month.

Scores of people, including 10 soldiers quelling unrest, have been killed in the last week alone.

Nationwide, well over 10,000 people have died in ethnic, religious and political violence since President Olusegun Obasanjo’s election in 1999 ended 15 years of military dictatorship.

The unrest is raising fears over a series of elections, including a presidential vote on April 19. Disruption to key oil exports could add economic hardship to the political crisis.

A source at an oil contracting company in Warri said villagers were preventing her company’s employees from leaving ChevronTexaco’s Escravos export terminal.

“Our staff are stuck there,” she said. “They said they have no way of getting out from there. They said they are just living by God’s will.” She added that Ijaw youths were shouting threats at those behind the terminal’s fences.

“They came toward them, shouting that they will kill them because Chevron has invited the police to fight them,” she said.

ChevronTexaco denied requesting any action by the police or the army. A company spokesman, Sola Omole, said in Lagos that there was an “uneasy calm” around the terminal.