Although I am in Nigeria, I am not in the part of Nigeria that is in the news: the Niger Delta. The distance between Lagos and the Niger Delta, geographically, is similar to the distance between New Orleans, Louisiana and Houston, Texas.

That being said, the distance is not so great in some other ways. I do see guys with machine guns regularly, though I have never seen nor heard one discharged. Also, the guys I see are paid to protect me, other company-related people and property. In the Delta, that’s not the story.

In the paper you can read about “bunkering” which is the process of offloading oil from a pipeline into another pipeline, illegally of course. It’s fancy siphoning, at the pipeline level. Here, occasionally I have heard of people tapping into fuel lines at a fuel station, and several people lost their lives in a related explosion since I have been here. But it’s people wanting fuel for their cars, not soldiers in a war against the oil company.

Mostly the siphoning I am aware of has to do with the company-provided vehicles and their fuel being “offloaded” by the drivers we hire. Why we don’t drive in Lagos is for another post. As for siphoning, the first driver we had often got a whopping 4 miles to the liter of fuel! I got smart — or rather, my neighbor gave me the scoop — and I put the next driver on a driver’s log and he accounts for the mileage and the gas. I don’t check it every day, but in two years, every time I check it, this driver seems to be behaving. I now get 12 miles to the liter or so even in our 6 mile an hour traffic. You thought Houston traffic was frustrating!