Thursday, June 01, 2006

Chinese worried about newly acquired Nigerian oil plots

China recently acquired the rights to four oil blocks in Nigeria. Understandably, they are concerned that disruptive activities by groups such as MEND could damage the productivity of their investment.

Austin-Baby Chukwurah Sr., chief of Press Information and Culture for the Nigerian Embassy in Beijing, told Chinese officials [emphasis mine]:
There is nothing like a guarantee. There is no threat to production. Look, these little, I'll call them skirmishes, are in a very small part of Nigeria. If you know the size of Nigeria, you know there is no call for any concern or alarm. They do engage in oil piracy, small skirmishes that they inflict on an oil pipe or something. They cannot inflict major damage on the oil industry, as such. They are confined to a small area of the delta. They do, from time to time, strike like commandos and go back. They cannot sustain any continuous attack or harassment of the people or the installations.
I know nothing about Chukwurah, but he's clearly sweet-talking the Chinese. "Very small part of Nigeria"? Yeah, I guess he's talking about the Niger Delta, only the source of over 80% of the Nigerian Federal Government's revenue.

"Cannot inflict major damage on the oil industry"? In February, attacks by Niger Delta militants caused a 25% drop in total Nigerian petroleum production. This drop, at a time of very tight global spare production capacity, significantly contributed radical rise in crude oil prices over the last few months. All this without "sustained attacks."

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