Michael Peel has an excellent, long, feature on West African oil up at Granta:
The story of west African oil has fascinated and disturbed me during the almost eight years I’ve known it. Three years spent as the Financial Times correspondent in Nigeria came particularly to inform the way I saw the energy industry and its role in the wider world. I find it hard now to look at anything connected with crude – whether the rawness of a Niger Delta slick, or the neatness of a Royal Dutch Shell filling station forecourt – without thinking of how it has moulded Africa’s Leviathan and some of its neighbours. For me, the logos of Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil evoke images of the great pluming orange gas flares that cast a sickly nocturnal glow over run-down villages, where people drink from stagnant pools. The barrels of oil whose price underpins City economic forecasts are what armed young Delta militants – determined, deluded or drunk, or all three at once – siphon from pipelines to fund a black market stretching across continents. Even in an age of often unrestrained realpolitik, it is hard to imagine a dirtier business in which so many of us in the rich world are so intimately and knowingly complicit.
Read the whole thing – brilliantly written.