A Nigerian militant commander in the oil-rich southern Niger Delta has told the BBC his group is declaring "total war" on all foreign oil interests.Ah, Total War. There's a phrase I haven't heard real people use for some time. I'm sure he's just kidding though. Really. Anyway, the BBC makes a common error when they write:
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has given oil companies and their employees until midnight on Friday night to leave the region.
It recently blew up two oil pipelines, held four foreign oil workers hostage and sabotaged two major oilfields.
Nigeria is Africa's leading oil exporter and the fifth-biggest source of US oil imports, but despite its oil wealth, many Nigerians live in abject poverty.Even in normal times - but especially these days, with oil at $60/bbl - there's an assumption that "oil exporter" = "wealthy." This simply isn't true. Even the big producers, like Saudi Arabia or Iran, haven't really been producing enough oil to keep up with population growth for some time. Nigeria is even worse off. Basically, even if it were equitably distributed, Nigeria's oil wealth would add less than $250 to each person. Now that's a lot for the third world, but it's not exactly opulence.
Our image of oil sheikhdoms is really derived from a few small countries like Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman where the populations are small and the oil reserves are outsized. For most oil-producing nations, the per-capita oil revenues are quite small.