This article traces the emergence of an “oil insurgency” in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. A key concept deployed in the analysis is the oil complex, understood as a sort of corporate enclave economy and also a center of political and economic calculation expressed through the operations of a set of local, national, and transnational forces that can only be dubbed as imperial oil. The operations of the oil complex under conditions of U.S. military neoliberalism create the violent and unstable spaces that David Harvey identifies as “accumulation by dispossession”. The insurgency is understood in terms of a deep history of political and economic marginalization and deepening political mobilization and militancy within the Niger Delta. What the oil complex has thereby produced is a fragmented polity with parcellized sovereignty rather than a robust, modern oil nation.
The anatomy of a petro-insurgency in the Niger delta
The Darfur-Chad border
The area around the border of Sudan and Chad, where Darfur lies, has been an unimportant and unknown backwater throughout history. Today, however, Darfur is all over the international press. Everybody knows about the grim war there. There is no oil currently in production in Darfur. However, there is oil in the south of neighboring Chad and in Southern Sudan, and there might be oil in Darfur. This article considers a case of fighting for oil when there is no oil yet. It takes into account the role of local actors doing the fighting, that is, the army, rebels, and militias; national actors such as the Sudanese and Chadian governments; and international actors, such as multinational oil companies, the United States, China, and the United Nations. It explains how oil can have disintegrative consequences even when it is still only a rumor about a future possibility.
Nationalism, globalization, and the possibility of another country in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela
This article examines similarities and differences in the development of the oil industries of Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela through an analysis of the struggles and alliances between their elites, political classes, and diverse popular forces. The analysis demonstrates that although history has produced popular skepticism over the meaning of the state's claim that “our oil belongs to the people,” a popular imaginary of the potential link between national resource sovereignty and social justice has had powerful historical effects. Despite the structural differences between these cases, it remains today at the center of emergent alternatives that cannot be dismissed simply as a return to the populism of the past. While its main significance in Mexico to date has been to impede persistent efforts to privatize the industry, in the cases of Venezuela and Brazil we may now talk of significant possibilities for building a more multipolar world economic order.
Weaponization of the RICO Act across jurisdictional borders
Lindsay Ofrias and Gordon Roecker
This article examines how the world’s arguably largest oil disaster, in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, has become a testing ground for new global forms of corporate power and the criminalization of dissent. Following the ongoing “trial of the century” between Chevron Corporation and plaintiffs representing tens of thousands of smallholder farmers and indigenous people affected by the disaster, we look at how the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act has been applied against the affected people and their lawyers to sidestep the norm of international comity and alter the parameters for pursuing environmental justice. Specifically, we point to how the case—and a new crop of cases following suit—has threatened to criminalize the use of “lawfare” as a “weapon of the weak.”
Infrastructure, Technologies of Extraction and Contested Oil in Nigeria
In 2011, Nigeria announced an amnesty programme targeted at Niger Delta insurgents who, for many years, had crippled the oil industry. The programme was designed to end in 2012, but it has since become a permanent feature of the Nigerian state
African Trade and Chinese Oil Production in Western Chad
During the last two decades, studies of oil have proliferated within the social sciences. Much of this literature demonstrates the impact of oil rents on developing countries such as Nigeria, Gabon, or Venezuela ( Kaldor et al. 2007 ; Karl 1997
Unfairness as Critical to Energy Transitions
consumption and per capita gross domestic product ( Linden 1996 ), governments have considered energy as a driving force of economic and social progress, developing policies to ensure a plentiful supply of energy at low cost. Oil became, and still is, the
Evenki Concerns Regarding the Proposed Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean Pipeline
Gail Fondahl and Anna Sirina
Indigenous peoples' rights to a healthy environment and to be able to participate in decisions affecting their environment are increasingly recognized in Russian law. In this article we explore the case of the Evenki living at the north end of Lake Baikal, who are faced with the construction of an oil pipeline through their home-land. The Evenki perceive significant potential risks to their livelihoods and lifeways due to potential environmental degradation from the pipeline, risks that destabilize their substantive rights. They also express frustration over their inability to participate in the pipeline planning—their procedural rights to decision making are not being realized. While the pipeline project is currently stymied over environmental concerns, environmental and cultural justice concerns of indigenous peoples could pose considerable de jure obstacles to its future progress, given the pipeline construction company's disregard of indigenous rights.
Partnership or Conflict? A Reflection on the Etnologicheskaia Ekspertiza
For the indigenous peoples of northern Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East, Sovietization and industrial development—including onshore oil and gas development from the 1920s have resulted in the loss of language, ethnic homogeneity, and the lands where they practice traditional livelihood activities. Multinational offshore oil and gas projects commenced in the late 1990s. Sakhalin's indigenous people initially sought partnerships with the multinationals, but turned to protest in 2005, demanding among other things that companies complete an etnologicheskaia ekspertiza (anthropological expert review or ethno-cultural impact assessment). This is a relatively new Russian term and no methodological guidelines currently exist in Russian law. One of the offshore projects, the Sakhalin-2 Project, completed an international-style social impact assessment in 2003. The author compares this assessment and the World Bank social safeguard standards adopted by the Sakhalin-2 Project with the etnologicheskaia ekspertiza, arguing for the integration of Western and Russian approaches, in order to establish a sound scientific and legal basis for the assessment of socio-economic and cultural impacts of industrial projects on local communities.
Oil, Empire, and Patrimonialism in Contemporary Chad
Stephen P. Reyna
This article concerns a type of change involving implementation of 'traveling models'—procedural cultural plans of how to do some-thing done somewhere elsewhere. Specifically, it concerns the World Bank's traveling model of oil revenue distribution in support of Chadian development. It finds that this model is failing and that dystopia is developing in its stead. A contrasting explanation, which examines the contradictions and consequences of Chadian patrimonialism and US imperialism, is proposed to account for this state of affairs. Finally, the analysis is shown to have implications for conceptualizing patrimonialism and planning development.