“One thing is clear – the era of easy oil is over. Demand is soaring like never before… At the same time, many of the world’s oil and gas fields are maturing. And new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically, and even politically.” – David O’Reilly, CEO, Chevron Energy, 2005
BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill, catastrophic as it was, affected a prosperous, stable nation. What would be the long term repercussions if a similar spill happened near a fragile, failed or failing state?
“If this Gulf accident had happened in Nigeria, neither the government nor the company would have paid much attention,” said the writer Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people. “This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta.”
It has been over two months now since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico, triggering what will surely be one of America’s greatest ecological disasters. Ever since the April 20th incident the focus – rightly – has been on BP’s stunning failure to stem the hundreds of millions of gallons of oil still pouring out of the broken pipeline. Yet given the scope of the tragedy, it is hard not to wonder how this would have played out if the oil well were in Asia. With far more limited resources, a less engaged government or a press unable or unwilling to document the unfolding events, the BP spill, awful though it is, might be drastically worse had it occurred in the South China Sea or Straits of Malacca.