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Oil Culture$
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Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816689682

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816689682.001.0001

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Oil Frontiers

Oil Frontiers

The Niger Delta and the Gulf of Mexico

(p.189) 10 Oil Frontiers
Oil Culture

Michael Watts

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines the legal, political, and cultural practices that have established the oil frontier as a primary productive realm of global petrocapitalism and a highly tenuous space defined by primitive accumulation, social disorder, and ecological ruination. Focusing on the turbulent oil fields of the Niger Delta and Gulf of Mexico, it highlights the role played by oil frontiers in the creation and capture of oil rents. The frontier refers to the spatial, temporal, and vertical dynamics in which oil fields within a province are discovered, developed, and recovered—from primary reserve creation to tertiary recovery from existing “matured” reservoirs. In the oil sector, a frontier has a specific set of connotations that speak directly to the space-time dynamics that are distinctive to the political economy of the oil assemblage. The chapter describes the violence afflicting the Nigerian oil complex as well as neoliberalism, dispossession, and reckless accumulation in the Deepwater Horizon of the Gulf of Mexico.

Keywords:   oil frontiers, petrocapitalism, oil fields, Niger Delta, Gulf of Mexico, oil rents, political economy, oil assemblage, oil complex, neoliberalism

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