Russia to oust Western oil and gas companies from Nigeria

The West is seriously concerned about a possibility for Russia to conquer African energy resources. It goes about Nigeria and its natural gas, first and foremost. However, there are too many problems connected with the country which make the development of its energy resources quite complicated. It may just so happen that the Nigerian game may not be worth the Russian candle.

Western countries are concerned that Russia is determined to force them back from Nigeria – a key energy supplier in the world. This African country is one of the basic suppliers of oil to Europe. In addition, it is also the fifth most important exporter of black gold to the United States.

Enormous reserves of natural gas were found in the country not so long ago. The West was hoping that the new reserves would let it weaken the energy dependence on Russia, but Gazprom, Russia’s gas monopoly, was the first one to snatch up the tasty bit.

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Nigerian President Umaru Yar’adua. Putin promised him a more lucrative contract and said that Russia could do better in the development of the nation’s energy resources. The West is now concerned that Gazprom may force Western companies that already work in Nigeria out.

Nigeria is not one peaceful state on the map of Africa. The country suffers from regular religious conflicts between the Muslims and the Christians. The largest one of them took place in September 2001.

Corruption is another major problem. The country is corrupted entirely. To add more fuel to the fire, 140 million Nigerians of the nation’s 150-million-strong population live from hand to mouth spending less than two dollars a day. The most populated African country is 14th largest country on the continent. The problem of overpopulation and the shortage of food has been getting more and more serious in Nigeria lately. The inflow of petrodollars has resulted in the collapse of other sectors of economy – agriculture, for instance.

Nigeria became one of the most developed African nations owing to billion-dollar foreign investments. Nigeria became Africa’s third country after Algeria and South African Republic that launched its own space satellite (with Russia’s help).

The growth of oil prices during the recent years did not result in an economic boost in the country. Moreover, the people receive no income from the national oil industry under the conditions of total corruption. A third of the nation’s adult population is illiterate, and is unable to find a normal job. To crown it all, about ten million people of Nigeria’s population are infected with AIDS.

Nigeria is the world’s sixth largest oil-mining nation in the world. However, a quarter of its oil was lost due to various separatist groups, which put the nation on the eighth position.

A variety of rebel groups, not to mention the local pirates, endanger the activities of Western companies working in Nigeria. One of them is especially active at this point – the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. Egbesu Boys of Africa follow similar slogans in their struggle. Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force is the most ‘famous’ of the rebel movements. Its members attacked a naval base of the country in October 2006 and recently slew the chairman of US oil company Baker Hughes.

Sergei Balmasov

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov