Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dirt-Cheap Gas in 2009: Be Careful What You Wish For

From Alternet

Oil costs a third of what it did in July, and prices keep dropping. That may seem like a godsend now, but we'll pay through the nose later.

Only yesterday, it seems, we were bemoaning the high price of oil. Under the headline "Oil's Rapid Rise Stirs Talk of $200 a Barrel This Year," the July 7 issue of the Wall Street Journal warned that prices that high would put "extreme strains on large sectors of the US economy." Today, oil, at over $40 a barrel, costs less than one-third what it did in July, and some economists have predicted that it could fall as low as $25 a barrel in 2009.

Prices that low -- and their equivalents at the gas pump -- will no doubt be viewed as a godsend by many hard-hit American consumers, even if they ensure severe economic hardship in oil-producing countries like Nigeria, Russia, Iran, Kuwait and Venezuela that depend on energy exports for a large share of their national income. Here, however, is a simple but crucial reality to keep in mind: no matter how much it costs, whether it's rising or falling, oil has a profound impact on the world we inhabit -- and this will be no less true in 2009 than in 2008. read more here


clintpatty said...

I'm glad Nigeria is making a lot less money. It's not like their people saw any of it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Shell, is the largest producer of gas and oil in Nigeria along with Exxon.

Since the Nigerian government hanged 9 environmental activists in 1995 for speaking out against exploitation by Royal Dutch/Shell and the Nigeria government, outrage has exploded worldwide. The tribunal which convicted the men was part of a joint effort by the government and Shell to suppress a growing movement among the Ogoni people: a movement for environmental justice, for recognition of their human rights and for economic justice. Shell has brought extreme, irreparable environmental devastation to Ogoniland. Please note that although the case of the Ogoni is the best known of communities in Shell's areas of operation, dozens of other groups suffer the same exploitation of resources and injustices.
The Problem

"The most conspicuous aspects of life in contemporary Ogoni are poverty, malnutrition, and disease."
-Ben Naanen, Oil and Socioeconomic Crisis in Nigeria, 1995, pg. 75-6
Although oil from Ogoniland has provided approximately $30 billion to the economy of Nigeria1, the people of Ogoni see little to nothing from their contribution to Shell's pocketbook. Emanuel Nnadozie, writing of the contributions of oil to the national economy of Nigeria, observed "Oil is a curse which means only poverty, hunger, disease and exploitation" for those living in oil producing areas2. Shell has done next to nothing to help Ogoni: by 1996, Shell employed only 88 Ogoni (0.0002% of the Ogoni population, and only 2% of Shell's employees in Nigeria)3. Ogoni villages have no clean water, little electricity, few telephones, abysmal health care, and no jobs for displaced farmers and fisher persons, and adding insult to injury, face the effects of unrestrained environmental molestation by Shell everyday.

A better example would be Chavez.

Chavez Offers Cheap Gas to Poor in U.S.
By David Pace

HAVANA, Cuba - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, popular with the poor at home, offered on Tuesday to help needy Americans with cheap supplies of gasoline.

Venezuela could supply gasoline to Americans at half the price they now pay if intermediaries who "speculated ... and exploited consumers" were cut out.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
"We want to sell gasoline and heating fuel directly to poor communities in the United States," the populist leader told reporters at the end of a visit to Communist-run Cuba.

Chavez did not say how Venezuela would go about providing gasoline to poor communities. Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA owns Citgo, which has 14,000 gas stations in the United States.

The offer may sound attractive to Americans feeling pinched by soaring prices at the pump but not to the U.S. government, which sees Chavez as a left-wing troublemaker in Latin America.

Gasoline is cheaper than mineral water in oil-producing Venezuela, where consumers can fill their tanks for less than $2. Average gas prices have risen to $2.61 a gallon in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Chavez said Venezuela could supply gasoline to Americans at half the price they now pay if intermediaries who "speculated ... and exploited consumers" were cut out.

Venezuela supplies Cuba with generously financed oil and plans to help Caribbean nations foot their oil bills.

Chavez, in Cuba to attend the graduation of Cuban-trained doctors from 28 countries, was seen off at the airport by Cuban President Fidel Castro. Washington has accused the two leaders of being a destabilizing influence in South America.

Chavez and Castro offered to give poor Americans free health care and train doctors free of charge.

Josef Ogwu said...

Why does the Nigerian government allow this to happen?

In Nigeria, it is questionable whether it is multinational oil companies like Shell or the military which hold ultimate control. Oil companies have a frightening amount of influence upon the government: 80% of Nigerian government revenues come directly from oil, over half of which is from Shell. Countless sums disappear into the pockets of military strongmen in the form of bribes and theft. In 1991 alone, $12 billion in oil funds disappeared (and have yet to be located)23. Local governments admit that oil companies bribe influential local officials to suppress action against the companies. Hence the interests of the Nigerian military regime are clear: to maintain the status quo; to continue acting on Shell's requested attacks on villagers whose farms are destroyed by the oil company; to continue silencing, by any means necessary, those who expose Shell's complete disregard for people, for the environment, for life itself. Shell and the Nigerian military government are united in this continuing violent assault of indigenous peoples and the environment. And just as oil companies exploit numerous communities in the Niger Delta, the government's involvement in the above crimes is not limited to the Ogoni.

To allow the Ogoni to continue raising local and global awareness and pressure would be political suicide for an oppressive, violent military regime, whose only mandate is its own guns24. The Nigerian military government could not allow this movement of empowerment to spread into other impoverished communities of the Niger Delta. By harassing, wounding and killing Ogoni and others, the military ensures that it remains in power and that its pockets remain lined with the blood money of Delta oil.

What are groups in Nigeria doing to stop Shell?

The first highly visible action organized by the Movement for Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) occurred on January 4, 1993 with 300,000 Ogoni (3/5 of the population) participating in the peaceful "Ogoni Day" demonstration. The overwhelming turnout signals a solid consensus for change, for freedom from the oppressions of Shell and the military regime. MOSOP is an umbrella association of ten Ogoni groups encompassing over half of the Ogoni population. Today, MOSOP's leaders live in exile, but MOSOP remains a significant presence both in Nigeria and abroad. Since MOSOP became highly visible, other groups in oil producing regions have begun modeling their actions on MOSOP's tactics of intense yet peaceful demonstrations, pan-ethnic-group organizations, and charters based on the Ogoni Bill of Rights. The military and Shell have been careful to prevent any movements from gaining MOSOP's momentum. See The MOSOP Story by MOSOP Canada.

clintpatty said...

Jeez I didn't realize it was that bad. Environmental reasons were the main ones I started biking, but human injustice like Nigeria (and other oil producing countries too) was a factor too. It's more like the Nigerian people are being hurt by oil, not just receiving no monetary benefits from it. And I bet the majority of Americans who consume more oil than the average world citizen don't know about it either. And we get some American kid who was kidnapped that we never knew on the news for 2 weeks instead of this.

Bello Velo said...

well said