President George W. Bush has said United States continued reliance on imported oil poses an ongoing threat to national security so the United states will pursue alternative source of fuel. Yet, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, Americans are expected to consume 28 percent more oil in 2030. To be sure, global demand for oil has increased more than 50 percent. It seems therefore that Bush’s measures might not make much of a dent in oil imports.With the crisis in Venezuela, the war in Iraq and the limitations put on the capacity of OPEC to meet any additional supply; there is a major energy crisis in the United State.
In all 50 states, this crisis has already hit home in the form of a recession, inflation, higher unemployment and frustration, as more Americans die in war in Iraq. Given this scenario, the United States now has a rising oil/energy stake in West Africa and particularly in Nigeria, which is a significant source of imported oil for the United States. Yet, the oil region in Nigeria called the Niger Delta – is in a state of turmoil characterized by ongoing violent deadly conflict.
Unfortunately, there is yet to be any major effort to investigate the various claims surrounding the escalation of acts of energy related violence in the region; There is yet to be a concerted effort to situate the present realities on ground in Nigeria within the various historical and ongoing political issues in the Delta region with more focus on what the local population sees as the problems, the way forward ; there is yet to be a public engagement intervention effort to adequately increase the understanding of Americans about the international dimension of the energy crisis
Business as usual
For now, the images of half-naked, AK47 clutching youths in the swamp of the Nigerian Delta is what has become proliferated in the media. To be sure, since January 2006, oil-related conflict in Nigeria’s delta has escalated to levels of heightened violence and disruption. Heavily armed militants have waged a war on the Niger Delta’s oil industry, their rhetoric focusing on the right of resource control for delta minorities and their ultimate goal to force multi national oil companies out of the delta. By the end of September 2006, attacks on Oil Company flow stations, and the kidnapping of more than 50 foreign oil workers resulted in a shutdown of approximately 25% (600,000 barrels a day) of Nigeria’s oil production and disrupted oil supply to the United States.
Across the United States, gas prices have gone up as a result of the war in the Middle East and disruptions in the supply from other US oil sources. As the problem escalates, there has been a recession in U S auto industry. Since, auto production accounts for 4 percent of the United States s economic output and is responsible for a quarter of the output for the major states in the Midwest. A direct effect of this is high rate of unemployment for AmericansThe job cuts in auto industry has already impacted auto suppliers and related industries, including steel companies like local AK Steel. Also, as a result of the fall in production by General Motors, Delphi Automotive Systems has permanently laid-off 1,100 workers in eight plants located in the Dayton, Ohio and another 300 more workers at its compressor plant in Moraine, Ohio. Meanwhile, as the war in Iraq rages on, communities in USA are mourning the loss of about young Americans. These folks want to understand what’s happening in Nigeria – the other significant source of oil for the United States. Americans want to understand what can be done to prevent another U.S military intervention in a foreign country of strategic importance.
The International dimensions.
Nigeria is a strategic partner for the United States and a vital player in the war on terror. As a crucial power broker, the country exerts great influence on African political, economic, and socio-cultural trends. Nigeria is America’s largest African trading partner, and an important source of oil. A prosperous Nigeria is therefore vital to Africa’s growth and stability, and to projecting U.S. influence as a strategic partner. Meanwhile, Poverty, corruption, and conflicts between local peoples and international oil companies have combined to make the oil-producing region in Nigeria, one of the most violent and unstable regions in Africa. Also, lack of attention to environmental concerns has turned the region into one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems.With the controversies surrounding April 2007 National election in Nigeria, the Delta region is charged up and tickling. Agitation for control of oil resources and the revenue from it has given birth to gun-totting guerrilla movements; and violence in the region has assumed the status of pseudo-terrorism.
The impact on the violence and poverty in the midst of plenty in the Nigeria Delta has now gone beyond recession, inflation, unemployment and the energy crisis in the United States. The impact of the situation in Nigeria now touches global concern about the next steps in the war on terror.What else can we do?