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Conflict over the oil resource in Nigeria is not an issue that can be simplified into a single driving cause. The issue is complex and cuts across the topics of violence, environmental degradation, and democratic representation in the Niger Delta. These topics within the issue of conflict over oil encompass political, economic, and social histories where effects can be seen at the local, state national, and international levels. The conflict over oil is largely fueled by the financial interest of western Multinational Oil Corporations. With over 80% of the Nigerian federal revenue being supplied by oil exports to foreign countries, the US in the lead, it is not difficult to identify one of the driving factors of Nigeria's oil conflict. The Chevron Oil Company has established itself as a formidable force within Nigeria's oil fields, particularly in the Bayelsa State. Chevron and its partners have held a presence in Nigerian oil discovery and production since the Gulf Oil Company's first off-shore mining in Okan conducted in 1963. In Bayelsa State there have been frequent kidnapping and attacks carried out by youth, citizens and militias unhappy with the environmental degradation and distribution of the oil wealth. Chevron, among other oil corporations, has been accused of exploiting local rivalries and ethnic differences as well as assisting the government in carrying out raids on communities hostile to Chevron's presence. More recently Chevron has changed its position from one of suppressing local communities' concerns to increasing development assistance and community investment. The effectiveness of these new programs will help to determine the stability of Niger Delta region in the future as other Multinational Oil Corporations recognize the importance of engaging local communities instead of forcibly suppressing their growing concerns.
(disclaimer: lengthy research paper below)