oil

Imperial Oil: Petroleum Politics in the Nigerian Delta and the New Scramble for Africa

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Anna Zalik and Michael Watts explain why being "oil rich" has become a curse on the poor of Nigeria and Angola.

The new scramble for Africa strikingly resembles the gun boat diplomacy and violence of the late nineteenth century. And the violence in the Niger Delta arises from a context in which oil industry policies have encouraged competition among local residents for the meagre payments associated with corporation activities on their land and waterways. Africa is experiencing a major oil boom. The continent accounts for roughly 10 percent of world oil output, and 9.3 percent of known reserves. Over the last decade it has emerged as a strategic supplier to the US market.

The Great Gamble

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In a recent speech delivered in Porto Alegre, Chris Harman explains why the US is staking its imperial future on Iraq.

Iraq is creating an enormous crisis for US imperialism. The US is in a situation very similar to when it faced the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, in February 1968 - a situation in which most of the sectors of the US ruling class have decided they are in danger of losing, but from which they do not see any easy way to withdraw. It took seven more years after Tet for the US to get out of Vietnam. They lost two presidents, the army fell apart, and US imperialism suffered an immense crisis in terms of its ability to impose its will elsewhere in the world.

The View from Hubbert's Peak

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Diminishing oil supplies have epochal implications for the world economy.

Angry truckers celebrated this May Day by blocking freeways in Los Angeles and container terminals in Oakland and Stockton. With diesel fuel prices in California soaring to record levels in recent weeks, the earnings of independent container-haulers have dropped below the poverty line.

Camp X-Ray on the NHS

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Look which US company is at the front of the queue for Iraq contracts.

What connection could there be between Texas, Vietnam, Camp X-Ray, US vice-president Dick Cheney and computerisation of the National Health Service? The answer, of course, is Halliburton--the US corporation which has been handed one of the first contracts for 'reconstruction' in Iraq and which the folks back in England are only just beginning to find out about.

Oil and the Intifada

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An attack on Iraq will lead to more instability in the Middle East.

The assertion of US power explains in general the attack on Iraq, but there is a more specific reason which helps to explain its timing and gives it added urgency. This is the US rulers' fear of the spread of the spirit of the Palestinian intifada to other Arab states, beginning with Saudi Arabia.

Oil: The New Scramble for Africa

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The US is eyeing up Africa's oil.

In the middle of last month a group of oil executives, US government officials and African politicians met in Houston, Texas, to organise a new carve-up of Africa's resources. The background is a scramble for oil that is reshaping western policy towards West Africa. It could also lay the basis for civil wars, tension between the US and European powers and future military intervention.

Tanker Disaster: Trouble on Oiled Waters

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Back in the 1970s, tanker owner Aristotle Onassis was the richest man in the world, and as infamous a personification of big capital as Bill Gates is today. Many other shipowners wanted a slice of his action, and the world is now living with the results, often in the form of beaches and seas covered with thick black sludge.

The Prestige--which broke up off the north west coast of Spain last month--was just one of many vessels mass produced in Japan during the spectacular over-ordering seen at the time. So was the Erika, which sank off the coast of Britanny in late 1999, losing 30,000 tonnes of oil in the process. So was the Braer, cause of a devastating 85,000 tonne spill off the Shetland Islands in 1993. So was the Aegean Sea, which grounded in almost the same Spanish waters as Prestige a decade ago, gushing out 74,000 tonnes of crude.

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