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Crude Oil: A blessing or a curse?

It is one of the natural endowments that occupy the crust in the southeast of the country. Well sought after by governments and individuals from around the world, it has over the years been nicknamed the black gold by many a people who deem it logical to compare its popularity with the precious metal.

Shortly after the exodus of the colonialists, this gem was discovered! But while other states with similar endowments have made do with the precious gift bestowed upon them like the biblical faithful servant who invested the money given him by his master and reaped bountifully, Nigeria, the tenth largest producer of crude oil with more reserves than China (15.5bbs), India (5.8bbs) and Norway (7.5bbs) put together, have yet to record any meaningful achievement since crude oil was first discovered more than four decades ago.|

While Egypt with a meagre one-ninth of what Nigeria has, has developed good infrastructure and maintains a steady economy in north Africa, Nigeria, the most populous black nation on earth- the only reasonable maxim that the west uses to describe her, cannot boast of same. Rather the men of straw who are saddled with the responsibility of fixing the economy, providing for the polity as well as tackling such germane issues as job creation, food and social security amongst others have worn their thinking caps askew thereby thinking the opposite.

What becomes of an oil-dependent economy such as ours if the unimaginable happens? Oil, upon which our economy lies, may be on the verge of disappearing sooner than most people think! Have we made adequate preparation for a possible oil meltdown?

Only recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirmed my worst fear! The body, headquartered in Paris, came up with a stunning report that ýoil was running out faster than previously anticipated!

After watching the event on America’s CNN where the shocking news was made, I put a call through to my long-time buddy, Steve, an oil industry geology consultant to make out a plan on what could be done to salvage the situation. Steve who flew into the country on vacation from Paris where he was a guest journalist at the energy summit, provided a more detailed and comprehensive report on the looming disaster. Having criss-crossed the length and breadth of Europe especially the Opec-member states conducting geological research for the IEA, Steve opined that no logical solution can be immediately proffered-at least for now.

Expectedly, the severity of the crisis may begin after 2010. Switching to an alternative source of revenue could be the best solution for now. However, with barely a year to the commencement of the crisis, there is no ample time to generate enough revenue to sustain the economy.

Many countries (oil producing) fixed their economies and created alternative sources of revenue while maintaining a very close relationship with crude oil, its market and its potential as a money spinner. Nigeria on the other hand through her corrupt and evil leaders who get elected to office through do-or-die means against the wishes of the electorate, has neither failed fix her economy nor create alternative revenue sources.

It is rather appalling that in a country where the revenue from excess crude oil is more than the national budget of some countries lives the 300th richest man in the world. Talking about big names, Nigeria is at the forefront of such frivolities while her citizens languish in abject poverty.

A country blessed in every ramification but failed to improve the living standard of its people is doomed to collapse in death someday with no one to bury it.

With conventional oil demand expected to exceed supply after 2010 because oil production has peaked in most oil fields, other sources are being explored. One of such non-conventional options is the exploitation of the massive reserves of tar sands in Canada. Not only is extracting oil through this means a carbon-intensive process, which will be hostile to our climate, the oil produced thereafter is dirty. However, Shell as well as some others deems this and extracting oil from coal as viable options.

The episode that ensued in the wake of the IEA’s shocking revelation is one most laughable. Countries with less likelihood of being hit by the crises presented alternative models of revenue sustenance drafted many years earlier and okayed by their constitution to the IEA for approval and recommendation (an optional exercise) to demonstrate their readiness to cope with any potential crises situation; but our own dear Nigeria, through her representatives only dilly-dallied around exchanging complimentary cards. A gesture which reflects the reckless, plan less, and I-don’t-care attitude of leaders with illegal oil fields who embarked on such trip just to scout for potential buyers of crude oil for their own self-aggrandizement.


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