Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nigerian oil strike may signal trouble ahead

Nigeria's oil unions started a three-day strike on September 13 amid growing security problems at the country's petroleum facilities. Both white-collar and blue-collar workers walked out to protest the death of an oil-industry worker who got caught in a gunfight between government forces and regional militants in August. Then, on September 12 -- just a day before the scheduled strike was to start -- came word that gunmen attacked a Chevron boat in the Niger Delta, killing another worker.

Although both Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell say that they've made arrangements to reduce the strike's impact, the incident marks another milestone in Nigeria's already shaky oil industry. According to Forbes, production from the country is already down about 900,000 barrels per day since the beginning of this year.

According to the Energy Information Agency's, International Energy Annual 2003, Nigeria accounts for about a quarter of all crude oil produced in Africa. U.S. imports from Nigeria reached a high of 39,793,00 barrels per month in March 2004. That figure fell to 32,818 barrels per month in June 2006, according to EIA.

Nigerian oil accounted for about 10 percent of all U.S. oil imports in 2005. Among OPEC countries, only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela exported more oil to the United States than Nigeria did last year.

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