List of panels

(P091)

Crude moves: social fields of global oil

Location C5.08
Date and Start Time 27 June, 2013 at 11:30

Convenors

Andrea Behrends (Martin-Luther University, Halle) email
Thomas Bierschenk (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz) email
Nikolaus Schareika (Georg August University) email
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Short Abstract

Crude oil for global markets brings tremendous change to producing countries. The panel seeks to understand the specific dynamics unfolding around oil sites. Papers should combine empirical analysis with anthropological theory and engage with the concept of materiality, S&TS or other perspectives.

Long Abstract

Crude oil for global markets brings tremendous change to less or least developed producing countries. The panel seeks to understand the specific dynamics unfolding around oil sites. It aims at combining these insights with new theoretical approaches within the emerging anthropology of oil. Recently, for instance, such well-grounded studies have challenged established theories like that of the 'enclave economy' or the 'resource curse'. Their focus lies, on the one hand, on the interaction of human actors with the materiality and the technologies of oil and, on the other, on social creativity and new forms of practice triggered by oil production. 'Crude moves' addresses scholars who study social fields around the production, transport, marketing, contestation or governance of oil and who build on new empirical data in order to present innovative theoretical generalizations in this field of knowledge. We invite papers that focus on particular communities or groups of actors that are affected by oil production and, at the same time, on the interface between their practice and global developments in the particular environment this resource creates. Further fields of inquiry might broach the issues of the workforce, trade, the financial sector, international intervention, but also rebel movements, displacement, migration, youth and others. Particularly interesting, but not exclusively favored, are engagements with Science & Technology Studies and the concept of materiality.

Chair: Andrea Behrends, Nikolaus Schareika, Thomas Bierschenk
Discussant: Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, Thomas Bierschenk, Géraud Magrin

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Community perspectives on the impacts of oil and gas activities on fisheries livelihoods in the Western Province of Ghana: Who is listening? And who will act?

Authors: Fred Ayifli (Wageningen University)  email
Kwabena Boafo Adom-Opare (USAID/West Africa)  email
Tutu Kerekang (Hatfield Consultants Africa)  email
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Short Abstract

Discovery of oil in Ghana has resulted in significant commercial opportunities. After two years of exploration; a ‘new struggle’ to survive has emerged amongst coastal communities as livelihoods are threatened. Can opportunities from oil and gas production be balanced with impacts on livelihoods?

Long Abstract

Discovery of commercial quantities of oil in Ghana has resulted in significant commercial opportunities for the West African nation. After two years of exploration however, a number of concerns have emerged particularly in the coastal districts. Calls from affected communities and civil society groups point towards the need to balance the opportunities with concerns about impact on livelihoods; but as these questions are being asked, who is listening? Are there sufficient institutional arrangements to provide the needed protection for these livelihoods? Considering that 10 percent of the country's population is dependent on fisheries resources for their livelihood, with about 4.5 percent of the sector contributing towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the situation cannot be brushed aside. Data for the preparation of this paper is gathered from engagements with fishermen and other stakeholders from three coastal districts - Ahanta West, Ellembelle and Jomoro. This was part of an ongoing World Bank sponsored project to pilot the use of technology as a tool for two way Transparency and accountability around oil and gas sector (2012-2013). The paper thus highlights some of the perceived and real direct environmental and associated problems community members face as a result of the oil exploration and exploitation particularly in the absence of a fisheries impact assessment. Using political ecology as a framework of analysis, this paper raises a key issue for the need to exercise caution particularly with the planning of Ghana's energy future from oil and gas development not neglecting the impact on producing communities.

Ultradeep oil rigs and the infralogics of risk: a view from Ghana's western Gulf of Guinea

Author: Brenda Chalfin (University of Florida)  email
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Short Abstract

Ultra-deep drill rigs are instrumental to opening the western Gulf of Guinea to oil exploration and production. The paper examines how risk is managed and reproduced through the operational logics of these technologies through an anthropological investigation of Ghana’s off-shore oil industry.

Long Abstract

Pursuing an anthropology of infrastructure, this paper addresses the emergence of the western Gulf of Guinea as an oil frontier of impending global significance. Focused on rig-engineering, workers and labor routines, and prospecting contracts within Ghana's off-shore oil sector, at the center of inquiry are the techno-logics of the deepwater drill rigs penetrating tens of thousands of feet of water and sub-sea depths. Findings suggest that the contracts subtending rig operations establish a chain of command mimicking the complex mechanics of the rig itself. The "techno-economic networks" (Law 1991) behind these agreements ensure the flexibility of rig movements, crew composition, and production targets. Double-edged, the decentralized terms of operator and service contracts are also a means of corporate risk avoidance, reducing accountability to actuarial liability and normalizing the insecurities of hydrocarbon exploration and extraction. Ethnographic investigations further reveal risk and risk-management to be the leading "infralogics" of rig operations, establishing the technical and discursive principles around which rig work revolves. Underwriting a pre-formatted yet adjustable operational platform that is amenable to circulation and inscribed in infrastructure, risk provides a common culture for rig workers, mediating the social and technological challenges of arduous, repetitive and crisis-prone work routines. Despite the agential potentials of risk-management rubrics endowing workers at all levels with decision-making responsibility, by treating human inputs as just another piece of rig technology, the engineering of agency around risk down-plays the inherent non-human risks of deepwater extraction, ultimately fostering risk-taking and the replication and circulation of ultra-deep technologies.

The urgency of oil: getting ahead in the Ghanaian downstream petroleum industry

Author: Monica Skaten (University of Edinburgh)  email
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Short Abstract

This article analyses the interplay between the government authority and the petroleum companies in the Ghanaian downstream petroleum industry. It zooms in on the social practices of competition and corruption and situates it in a larger context of international petroleum extraction.

Long Abstract

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) in Ghana was established in 2005 to regulate and oversee the actors in the downstream petroleum industry. After the discovery of domestic commercially extractable oil in the Jubilee-field in 2007, there has been a sense of urgency and increased competition among the actors in the industry. Petroleum companies expand their business by increasing outlets, stocking equipment, and growing their distribution potential. To succeed in this process the petroleum companies need to acquire licenses and other formal documents from NPA. This creates room to maneuver for both employees within the government authority and for those operating the petroleum companies. This article looks into the strategies employed by petroleum companies to "get ahead" in the industry. Building on the framework of "anthropology of oil", this article argues that the governing of oil in the Ghanaian downstream industry occurs in several spheres and is influenced by multiple tendencies. Consequently, both power relations in the extractive industries and in the specific local industry need to be incorporated into the analysis when addressing issues as corruption. Furthermore, investigation into notions of why it is particularly important to grow in the petroleum industry is essential. The sense of urgency is reflected in the social spaces surrounding the industry, mirroring the fact that oil is a non-renewable resource that has a certain timespan. "Getting ahead" becomes a primary goal, and corrupt practices become the more reliable route for achieving that goal. This article argues that a web of influences, both material and social, fuels corruption in the industry.

Oil enclaves, resource curse and production-sharing agreements

Author: Saulesh Yessenova (University of Calgary)  email
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Short Abstract

This study argues that multinational oil enclaves promote the very tensions and insurgencies against which they were initially erected. It also argues that the oil enclave is the tip of the contractual iceberg which is a source of political problems of petrostates identified as resource curse.

Long Abstract

This study engages with the literatures on the "resource curse" and the "oil enclave." The analysis stems from an ethnographic field research conducted within one such enclave, a secured industrial colony established by a multinational oil company. It is argued that the oil enclaves, intended to divide foreign oil companies from potentially unstable situations, actually promote the very social tensions and insurgencies against which they were initially erected. This relationship calls for a critical assessment of how and to what ends the enclaved oil colonies function, as well as of the legal mechanisms that support them. To this end, it is argued in this study that production-sharing agreements, which are internationally sanctioned oil contracts binding the state and the oil company for decades, authorize the erection of industrial enclaves invariably marking oil production sites in the Global South. It is furthermore argued that the industrial enclave itself is only the tip of the contractual iceberg, which is part and parcel of political problems of petrostates and oil-exporters as described in the "resource curse" literature. This two-fold argument points to the need to expand the analytical frame of "resource curse" to include the global oil industry in the explanation of this persistent malfunction of the oil-rich states. In this regard, it is demonstrated that production-sharing agreements, which are extensively discussed in this study, help to capture the industry's' role in producing the "resource curse."

What's oil got to do with it? Public culture, political effects and the rentier state in Gabon

Author: Christine Fricke (Universität Mainz)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper explores how oil has permeated into nearly every aspect of daily life in Gabon, the implications the rentier state has on political culture and how people, although often not directly linked to the offshore productions sites, are affected by the oil rent.

Long Abstract

Due to its oil rent, Gabon has long been one of the wealthiest sub-Saharan states and is often described as an African emirate. Crude oil production having started as early as the 1960s, the construction of the independent state went along with grandiose and prestigious infrastructure projects that kindled national pride. The oil rent further often took and still takes the role of a social shock absorber and provides political elites with redistribution and regulation capabilities that assure popular support and the maintenance of political stability. Apart from economic and political impacts, though, the oil revenue also has numerous social implications, from enhancing conspicuous consumption to what is regarded as a general rent mentality of the citizenry. With the government's new attempts to diversify the national economy and to break with the rent mentality, popular discontent is growing and is increasingly taken into the streets, replacing national pride with a discourse on shame and anger. Based on empirical data from fieldwork in Gabon, the paper explores how oil has permeated into nearly every aspect of daily life and how people, although often not directly linked to the offshore productions sites, are affected by the oil rent. The paper further deals with the implications the rentier state has on political culture and everyday life.

Security apparatus and spatial/temporal mobility in the Chadian oil zones

Author: Remadji Hoinathy (Centre de Recherches en Anthropologie et Sciences Humaines - CRASH)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores temporal and spatial mobility within the Chadian oil zones with a particular focus on the interaction between villagers and the oil security apparatus.

Long Abstract

The implementation of the oil complex most of the time goes with the deployment of security and safety technologies to secure oil installations and to insure a peaceful oil exploitation. Following Ferguson, this deployment aims at creating a kind of enclave. In the Chad the oil zones are populated and the deployment was to be done within villages, fields and bushes. So there are very regular interactions of the local people with this security apparatus.

The security apparatus is a mix of national security forces and private safety companies. Oil companies' need for "total security" inferred a continuous reinforcement of security measures in order to avoid any threats. As there it is not a kind of isolated enclave but a mix of oil installations and villages, this interweaving necessitates some readjustments in the way people move and deploy their activities in their usual living context. The paper intends to analyze the deployment of the security technologies in the oil zones and the ways people cope with it in their everyday life.

"Oil passes through the people's hands": materiality, territoriality and ownership in the negotiation of oil in Niger

Author: Jannik Schritt (Institut für Ethnologie)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores the role of oil’s materiality and its technological infrastructure within political competition and power struggles. It will be shown that the techno-social arrangements of oil are inevitably embedded in political processes of realising rights, aims and claims.

Long Abstract

Classic political economy concepts like "rentier state" and "resource curse" mostly neglect a historical perspective and a perspective on socio-technical arrangements. In my paper I will present the techno-social arrangements of oil as a historical and inevitably also a political process by focusing on the roles materiality, territoriality and ownership play in the negotiation of oil in Niger. It will be shown that the claims raised by political actors around the three different oil sites - the site of oil extraction, oil refinement and the capital as the center of political administration - were highly territorialized. Each region's political claims are based on a different understanding of "whom belongs the oil" triggered by a strategic political decision of the former Nigerien government to implement the oil refinery in Zinder region, 400km west of the oil extraction sites. Furthermore, the resources' materiality and characteristics of everyday usage seem to influence the processes of realizing claims. In regard to oil the first addressee of accusations is the national government whereas for the uranium or gold production the first addressees of accusations are foreign companies and nations. This is because as interlocutors stated: "oil passes through the people's hands" which designates that especially in cities nearly everyone relies on cheap fuel whereas by contrast "no one in Niger has neither seen nor used uranium or gold". Studies on oil therefore have to widen their perspective from the distribution of fiscal revenues to the materiality and technological infrastructure of oil.

Policies and practices of corporate social responsibility in Angola: consequences for development and public health

Author: Virginie Tallio (ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)  email
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Short Abstract

We will investigate the contribution of oil production to development in Angola through the lense of the CSR policies of the companies, focusing on public health programs. We will explore how they shape public health and how the travel of staff between NGO and CSR programs challenges its notion.

Long Abstract

In this paper, we will investigate the contribution of oil production to development through the lense of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies of the companies. Indeed, research on oil and development focuses generally on the impact on local communities, on "recourse curse" and on the use of philantropic projects to buy social peace. Few have been investigated on the adaptation of non-governmental organizations (NGO) to the business world and vice-versa, and CSR programs have not been investigated as such, especially regarding their inputs on development practices and policies. We will focus on Angola, one of the biggest oil producers in Africa and nevertheless a country where the population still suffers from poverty, and on public health programs. Angola is recovering from more than thirty years of war. Nevertheless, the development NGO never seized the reconstruction market constituted by the rebuilding of infrastructures and of capacities. Indeed, the CSR departments have the leadership on it through their projects and the funding of local NGO. Consequences of it can be drawn on different aspects. Development projects are shaped differently as well as beneficiaries groups. Some aspects of public health are privilegied when some others are left aside. One of our research axis will be the travelling of staff between NGO and CSR departments and thus of work habitus that influence the recomposition of public health.

This paper rests upon extensive field work pursued since 2008 in Angola and relies on examples from Luanda, Huíla and Cunene provinces.

Enjeux de l'exploitation pétrolière : étude de cas à N'gourti (Niger)

Author: Hadiza Moussa (Université Abdou Moumouni/LASDEL)  email
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Short Abstract

Les transformations de l’Etat local et les multiples implications de l’exploitation pétrolifère sur les modes de gouvernance locale (financière, politico-économique et institutionnelle) et les perceptions des populations seront examinées à l’échelle de la commune rurale de N’gourti.

Long Abstract

La disponibilité récente de la manne pétrolière au Niger suscite aujourd'hui des enjeux multidimensionnels de même qu'elle alimente abondamment la rhétorique actuelle du développement. Depuis janvier 2012, le Niger a commencé l'exploitation du bloc pétrolifère d'Agadem à travers la société chinoise CNPC. Ce sont ainsi de nouveaux enjeux géostratégiques, politiques, économiques qui sont en train de prendre forme à la fois à l'échelle nationale et locale.

Localement, la Commune Rurale de N'gourti qui abrite le site d'exploitation pétrolière (même si la raffinerie est située à plus de 600 km dans la région de Zinder) nourrit des « légitimes ambitions » de développement individuel et collectif. Les élus locaux, la jeunesse et la société civile naissante sont au cœur de ces logiques et dynamiques. Avec l'exploitation pétrolière dans ladite commune, des mutations multiformes (socio-culturelles, économiques, politiques, géostratégiques, etc.) viendront se greffer à des enjeux locaux (conflits inter et intra-communautaires, faible ancrage de l'Etat, précarité économique et absence des infrastructures, processus balbutiant de la décentralisation, etc.), eux-mêmes réputés pour leur complexité.

Cette communication tente de restituer les multiples enjeux de l'exploitation pétrolifère dans la commune rurale de N'gourti. Ces enjeux tournent autour des transformations de l'Etat local et des implications de l'exploitation pétrolifère sur les modes gouvernance locale (financière, politico-économique et institutionnelle) et les perceptions des populations.

Technologies of oil and social transformation in Chad

Authors: Andrea Behrends (Martin-Luther University, Halle)  email
Nikolaus Schareika (Georg August University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores how risk connected to oil production has been transferred from international oil companies and the Chadian state to local farmers in the oil producing zone.

Long Abstract

The material changes in infrastructures and the administration of land brought about by oil production have led to massive social transformations in the Southern Chadian oil zone. This paper explores how the factor of risk connected to oil extraction, inscribed into the large technical systems needed to produce oil, have been transferred from the international and the national level to the local level of small scale farmers.

Dynamiques locales et stratégies des acteurs autour de la rente pétrolière à N'Gourti (Nord-est du Niger)

Author: Mahamidou Aboubacar Attahirou (Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey/ Lasdel)  email
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Short Abstract

The intensification of oil activities in N'gourti has revived appetite among actors involved in the Nigerien oil sector as both national and local levels. This paper aims to understand how local actors develop strategies to capture oil revenues.

Long Abstract

Oil production began in June 2008 in the Rural Commune of N'gourti in an atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty as Chinese partners felt were engaging into risk business. At the time oil reserves in Niger were estimated less than 350 million bbl. and the gas only about 10 billion m3.

Four years later, interest in this business grown as new estimates have been made. This development has greatly revived the interest of partners in this sector, at the national and local levels. Thus, several categories of strategic actors or group of actors resort to multiple methods in order to benefit from the income generated by oil. The main objective of this research is to map out the different types of strategies used by these actors to'' capture'' the oil income and analyze their social, political and economic impact on local change. My approach is inspired by that of Behrends, A. (2008) who wanted to demonstrate how the real or supposed existence of oil on the border of Chad-Sudan can influence conflicts in this area. Along similar lines I would like to demonstrate oil revenues or their mere announcement changes the social and political organization of an environment with the participation of the local and national actors.

Transformation de la gouvernance minière au Niger : l'exemple du pétrole

Author: Mahamane Tidjani Alou (Université Abdou Moumouni/LASDEL)  email
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Short Abstract

La dynamique de l’administration minière et les transformations induites par l’exploitation pétrolière, les acteurs et les structures administratives émergents, leurs liens avec les autres structures, les logiques bureaucratiques et les perceptions véhiculées suscitent beaucoup d’interrogations.

Long Abstract

La question minière au Niger devient de plus en plus un objet visible et qui mérite l'attention des chercheurs au-delà des polémiques et autres intérêts qu'elle suscite. En effet, la montée du cours de l'uranium et les perspectives ouvertes par l'exploitation de nouvelles mines, de même que le choix fait par le gouvernement nigérien de s'engager avec la Chine dans l'exploitation du pétrole de l'Agadem et la construction d'une raffinerie à walaléwa mettent la question minière au cœur des discours politiques et des options de politiques économiques au Niger.

L'ambition de cette communication est d'analyser le dispositif institutionnel mis en place dans la perspective de la valorisation de ces matières premières et, plus spécifiquement du pétrole. Il s'agit aussi de comprendre son fonctionnement et le type de gouvernance qu'il induit sur le plan organisationnel et en termes de jeu d'acteurs.

Le Niger dispose d'une administration minière depuis longtemps qui était, au début, essentiellement orientée vers de tâches de recherche et d'exploration et était ouverte au secteur minier en général, sans aucune forme de spécification. Un pas sera effectué à partir des premières découvertes minières et les perspectives ouvertes par leur exploitation. Non seulement, cette administration va se développer mais elle se diversifiera pour couvrir des secteurs de plus en plus importants.

Cette communication permet de mettre en évidence la dynamique de cette administration, ainsi que les transformations qu'elle subit sous l'effet de l'exploitation du pétrole.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.