Friday, May 12, 2006


An explosion in a Nigerian pipeline today is said to have claimed as many as 200 lives. Oil theives have been blamed for the explosion, which is believed to have been an accident. The pipeline exploded while being tapped. Corpses were strewn along the beach, charred and unrecognizable, often with only smoking skeletons, grey with ash, remaining to mark their death:
"You can see the corpses. Some are burned to ash. Others are remnants ... We estimate 150 to 200 people died," Lagos State Police Commissioner Emmanuel Adebayo said at the scene.
Tapping pipelines, or "bunkering," is a common practice in Nigeria. It is also capital-intensive, requiring investment that only local and state government officials are believed capable of providing.
Most of the victims were probably members of a skilled petrol-theft gang, who know the location of vulnerable pipelines and hire local thugs or police to protect them while they siphon fuel at the dead of night, Saka-Shenayon [a Lagos State government official] said.
I should add -- only to demonstrate the financial incentive that should motivate our government to attention to conditions in Nigeria -- that the US oil market tightened up considerably following the news of the explosion, this despite today's lowered estimates of world petroleum demand by the International Energy Agency.

Forget what you've heard about a demand-driven market -- it's all about supply, and it's going to stay that way as long as we ignore Nigeria, continue to saber-rattle in Iran, continue to blow it in Iraq, and fail to normalize relationships in Venezuela.

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