Niger Delta’s Underground Oil Community

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A NYTimes Lens piece recently shared the stories and photographs of residents in the Niger Delta. These people make a living off of collecting the lucrative oil of the swamp, despite it being highly dangerous and illegal work. The piece emphasizes the lifestyle of these locals, and their constant battle with the oil industry on the rights to the resource. The photos here are very stylized and powerful, and are reminding of the intense influence that images can add to a story.

“For the last 50 years, the Niger Delta’s multibillion-dollar oil trade has been the cause of intense conflict, legal debates and deep mistrust between the big oil companies and local residents who feel betrayed by the Nigerian government for not profiting from the lucrative industry. Almost 90 percent of those living along the delta survive on less than $1 a day. Many find the clandestine oil trade, even with the risk of prison or death, is the only way to support their family.”

The book A Swamp Full of Dollars by Michael Peel tells of similar oil looting in Nigeria, and how the industry has sabotaged the local economies and way of life of many Nigerians.

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