Nigeria may sit atop one of the largest oil reserves in the world, but the majority of the Nigerian people have seen little benefit from the multibillion-dollar industry. The government and global energy companies have been exploiting the resource for years, bringing poverty, pollution, and violence to the Niger Delta. And now the local militias fighting for oil control have made conditions even worse.
Caught in the conflict are Nigerian citizens involved in the illegal oil market simply for survival. Oil theft is rampant, and the booming black market has transnational oil and gas consultants concerned about the effects on global oil markets. The government isn't too happy about it either.
“All the oil that is sold around here, the government calls illegally refined products,” local oil businessman Don Wizaro told VICE News. And when the Nigerian military raids illegal oil operations, they slash containers, releasing oil into waterways, contaminating what the main source of fishing, agriculture, and drinking water.
As the government continues its assault on illegal refineries and barges carrying stolen oil, local militias are retaliating. And one of the most notorious militias is the Niger Delta Avengers. They attack pipelines and infrastructure, significantly affecting both the environment and the economy.
VICE correspondent Gianna Toboni heads to the heart of Nigeria's oil production to witness firsthand the fight over the control of oil in the Niger Delta.