Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer. In 2005, it was the world's sixth largest exporter of oil, but the conflict there has cut distribution by an estimated 500,000 barrels per day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The militants are threatening to hurt the oil sector even more.
While this may only seem to be a symptom, I imagine that oil production disruption is a distinct goal here.
More than 2 million barrels of crude oil is pumped out of Nigeria every day, according to the U.S. Energy Department. International oil conglomerates from the United States, China and other countries have taken up stakes in the Niger Delta. Among the oil giants are Shell, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and oil service companies like Schlumberger and Brazil's Petrobas.
And there's the stakes. While it's the Nigerian militias that are demanding a cut of the profits, there's another party/parties at work here, here's the clue:
Nigerian forces have struggled in the battle. The navy doesn't travel to the regions where CNN went because the waters are so dangerous, patrolled by armed militants in speed boats that quickly navigate through the swamps.
"The militants are far more well armed than the Nigerian navy. They have bigger guns and speed boats that can practically go anywhere, even shallow waters," she said.
A week ago, the militants sailed into Port Harcourt and boldly made their way to the central police station in the middle of the town and shot their way out, rescuing 15 of their comrades who had been arrested by the navy.
Ok, so how does a group, that claims to be extremely poor and deprived, end up better armed and equipped than the nation's government forces? Outside agitation. Proxy war. It's a time-honored African tradition to fund rebel groups in your neighboring countries. Or, it's someone who stands to gain much by disrupting oil supplies to the countries listed above, which may be more likely. It's time to start following the money..