Niger Delta

Big Men: The Story Of Oil In Africa

A new documentary highlighting African oil corruption in the Niger Delta is set to open across the U.S. this week in theaters.  It was filmed by Rachel Boyton in late 2006 as she was trekking through the oil-rich Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria and tells her chronicle of the petroleum-fueled pursuit of wealth and status in Africa. Below is the trailer to the film.

The central narrative of the film is that it takes place in Ghana, some 200 miles to the west. Boynton somehow convinced Dallas oilman James Musselman and his British-born colleague Brian Maxted–the chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively, of a privately held exploration company called Kosmos Energy–to let her shadow them with cameras and microphones as they drilled their way through layers of Ghanaian politics and bureaucracy, and the white-hot core of Wall Street, in order to reap the financial rewards of an amazing discovery. Kosmos had raised $825 million in private equity investment from Warburg Pincus and the Blackstone Group and located the country’s first known oil reserves: a multi-billion barrel, deep-sea deposit, 40 miles off the Ghanaian coast in the Atlantic Ocean and dubbed the Jubilee Field.

As to why oil executives would have a documentary film maker follow them around, Musselman explains that “Rachel is very persuasive, She was passionate about the story. I thought it was a good story that just got better, frankly, as time went on. We don’t enjoy great reputations a lot of the time. I thought this was a good story to show how in Ghana, we could transform the lives of a whole lot of people for the better. And I thought her contrast back to Nigeria was really good. I’d seen some of her previous work and I thought she’s gonna do a good job. It wouldn’t be any kind of expose’ or anything bad. I trusted her.”

I look forward to seeing this film myself.

Stability in Niger Delta = Success for Nigeria

David Goldwyn, the U.S. State Department’s coordinator for international energy affairs, told an April 13 panel discussion sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the Obama administration is “strongly committed to helping Nigeria with its problems” and “will bring the resources of the U.S. government” to bear in areas such as expanding electricity use to create jobs and bring economic benefits to the delta.

Nigeria is important to U.S. policymakers, Goldwyn said: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited in August 2009; President Obama met with Nigeria’s acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, on April 11; Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson has visited a number of times; and the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission was launched April 6.

All these efforts, the U.S. official told the panel, are meant “to bring all the parts of our government together to work with Nigeria as partners on solving some of the core problems facing the nation.” But “the lead … on strategies and plans … will come from the acting president and his Cabinet.

The key to Nigeria’s economic progress is stability in the Niger River Delta, where the bulk of the country’s oil and natural gas is produced and where a smoldering militancy and sabotage of production facilities threaten progress for the region’s 30 million residents, energy experts say.

Full article.

Back ground Video on the conflict.

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