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Liquefied Natural Gas and Fossil Capitalism

Anna Zalik teaches in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto. She can be reached at azalik[at] Her research concerns the merging of industrial security and development aid interventions in sites of petroleum extraction and social resistance to extractive capital. This article draws from ongoing work in Mexico and Nigeria and was presented in an earlier form at the conference “Dangerous Trade: Histories of Industrial Capital in a Globalizing World,” at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in December 2007. The author thanks the Ciriacy-Wantrup Fellowship program at the University of California at Berkeley for its support to this research, Rory Cox for helpful comments, Sergio Chavez for his support and collaboration on this work in Baja California, and Fernando Rouax for research assistance.

The contemporary ecological crisis places a new spin on the notion of the “resource curse,” evoking widespread concerns regarding hydrocarbon dependency. Whether environmental, in the form of global warming, or socio-political, through wars over oil, “fossil capitalism” is now understood as a global problem.1 The development of a global market in natural gas, heavily dependent on the development of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry, offers an example of a corporate-endorsed solution to the simultaneous ecological and economic “crises” associated with fossil capitalism. Yet, since 2004 a cross-continental mobilization against the development of LNG terminals in North America has successfully challenged the installation of some LNG infrastructure on the West Coast.2 These movements stress that the investment required to build the global gas industry displaces investment in renewables.

A key limitation on natural gas usage is the difficulty of transportation, particularly across oceans and over long distances. LNG is natural gas that has been cooled for purposes of transportation to approximately –163°C (–260°F), changing it from a gas to a liquid 1/600th its original volume. It is shipped in double-hulled seagoing vessels known as LNG carriers designed specifically to handle the low temperature of LNG. There are currently now more than 130 such ocean carriers in operation worldwide. Receiving or gasification terminals take the form of specially constructed ports devoted exclusively to the importing and exporting of LNG. Once it reaches its destination it is stored in insulated tanks built specifically to hold LNG. When there is demand for fuel the LNG is heated to return it to its gaseous state and delivered via pipelines as natural gas to customers. LNG is exported by countries with large natural gas reserves such as Algeria, Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, and Trinidad and Tobago. There are some sixty LNG receiving terminals worldwide, mainly in high-income consuming nations such as Japan, Korea, the United States, and some European countries.

As the “cleaner” hydrocarbon, natural gas has been promoted as a partial solution to the problem of global warming. As the ecological critique of carbon-based fuel consumption grows louder, with supply concerns prompting energy price increases and OPEC members claiming greater sovereignty over petroleum assets, natural gas appears increasingly attractive both financially and environmentally. Multinationals displace lost oil reserves with gas, while they market themselves as greener energy companies (the most notable being BP’s new moniker: Beyond Petroleum). Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer-winning author of the book The Prize on the oil industry, referred to natural gas as “The Next Prize” in a 2004 article in Foreign Affairs. Making it prize-worthy, however, depends on LNG development that is high-risk, costly, and inefficient.

David Harvey’s theorization of the “spatial fix” provides insight into the formation of the global LNG market, since it is by nature a global industry, associated with overseas transport of fossil fuel. Although technically difficult, LNG development helps the oil and gas industry address some of fossil capitalism’s contradictions while creating others. The investment of surplus in LNG infrastructure allows for the use of excess capital in specific sites. Concurrently, certain social contradictions of the “state-tied” resource curse are avoided, transferring the product out of relatively insecure settings and into more profitable ones. Given rising criticism of the oil and gas industry, however, the promotion and connection of LNG to the North American power grid must be accomplished. So industry aims to persuade legislators and the public that LNG has some intrinsic value in terms of conservation, the environment, and energy security. But providing a convincing argument for LNG could become increasingly difficult with recent assertions that drilling for shale gas in the United States could preclude the need for these imports.

The analysis below examines how the LNG industry is commonly conceived as a partial, stop-gap solution to the ecological and economic crises arising from fossil-fuel dependence. By looking at the overseas transfer of LNG from Nigeria to Mexico in order to power the U.S. energy grid, this article seeks to explain ongoing spatial transfers associated with “ecological imperialism.” Mexico’s first LNG terminal, operational since 2006, is a Shell project in Tamaulipas State, which borders Texas, sourcing gas from its Nigerian LNG facility in Bonny Island. LNG development in the two sites in Nigeria and Mexico has interfaced with varying social conflicts and positions in the global political economy of oil—in the Nigerian case, highly volatile, in the Mexican relatively stable. Fostered by corporate subsidies, the gas ultimately enters the more lucrative U.S. market, servicing that country’s hydrocarbon-accumulation model.3

The Resource Curse

Although the term “resource curse” seems an apt descriptor for the global pitfalls of hydrocarbon dependency, in its original usage it had a decidedly state-centered focus. The curse describes how exporters of high-valued natural resources become tied to a single major source of revenue in a form that stymies their domestic economic growth. Classic examples of this dynamic in the oil sector include Nigeria, and Venezuela up until the late 1990s. Sometimes called the “paradox of plenty,” this condition is associated with the accumulation of high-value natural-resource based capital in a particular state. The rapid accumulation of surplus through exports of this resource erodes social cohesion, encouraging spending on conspicuous consumption and imported goods rather than industrialization. Socially, this leads to magnified inequality as powerful elites claim “rents,” or kickbacks, in a cash-flooded national economy.4

The state socio-economic erosion associated with the “curse” includes deteriorating public services and infrastructure. Often, due to the consumption culture that the curse is said to foster, poor services are attributed to corrupt actors in commercial and governmental institutions. But the deterioration of infrastructure cannot be attributed merely to acquisitive values or—as often implicit in contemporary charges of corruption against developing countries—to “laziness” (a stigma laden with colonizing stereotypes). In fact, the concept of Dutch Disease, often equated with the resource curse, was coined to describe the deterioration of the Netherlands following the gas boom of the 1960s. And a similar curse has been used to explain the centuries-earlier deterioration of the Spanish economy as a result of rampant extraction of silver and natural wealth from the Americas. The rising exchange rate that results from accumulation during a boom period prompts de-industrialization, as manufacturing and agricultural sectors become less competitive on the global market, and even domestically. In various third world oil exporters, this phenomenon has encouraged divestment from these sectors, leading to “underdevelopment.”

Interestingly, those oil producers commonly identified as having “escaped the curse” include Mexico, where oil came under national control after the expropriation of foreign oil holdings in 1938.5 Mexican petroleum production after the expropriation was initially intended to be directed toward national industrial development in accordance with an import substitution model, although this was later to break down as a result of U.S. economic dominance, creeping privatization, and neoliberalism.

In contrast to the explicitly developmentalist and import-substitution model that prevailed in Mexico, advancing de-industrialization, associated with high-value resource extraction and the related export dependency, makes most resource-cursed countries less attractive sites for reinvestment of the energy and capital surplus extracted.6 In Nigeria, despite considerable need for domestic gas as a cooking fuel, gas associated with the oil extraction is primarily being liquefied for export. The transformation of Nigerian gas into LNG makes it a globally tradable substance—serving European and North American markets far afield. Contemporary military advances into West Africa through the expansion of the U.S. Africa Command, and the UK’s recent offering of policing support to assuage the Niger Delta crisis, echo the imperial histories of these regions. Indeed, historical and contemporary extraction of natural resources from these regions and the socio-political strategies that facilitate it may well be explained as ecological imperialism.7

Harnessing Gas

The construction of a global gas market, complete with dedicated LNG terminals, requires that legislators and a public wary of energy companies must first be convinced of its economic and environmental benefits. Moreover, particular technology must be put into place to move it trans-oceanically. As described by Gavin Bridge, the properties of gas as an ethereal substance shape a “stubbornly anachronistic geography of commodity supply.” Where terrestrial pipelines cannot be installed, overseas shipment demands liquefaction at extremely cold temperatures, allowing its transport on special tankers to distant terminals. Once it arrives at its destination, the substance is regasified and linked into domestic power grids.

Whether piped or shipped, this is an expensive undertaking and, until the recent upsurge in energy prices, much gas was considered “stranded” since the process was considered too costly to be viable.8 Today the context has changed, with concerns regarding a global fuel shortage prompting rising prices on gas futures markets that are beneficial for the promotion of LNG development. In the last ten years the international oil industry has placed a major emphasis on the development of LNG terminals and infrastructural connections in North America. Although there is widespread consensus that natural gas is preferable to coal burning for electricity generation, LNG is a doubtful candidate for an overall reduction in carbon emissions. Recent studies suggest that the carbon footprint of LNG transported long distances may be substantial.9 Building a North American domestic LNG infrastructure will also shape a set of commercial and worker interests tied to this industry, which may further postpone and/or create obstacles to non-hydrocarbon sources as a substitute.

Although LNG currently accounts for only about 30 percent of the inter-regional trade in gas, the International Energy Agency estimates that the figure may rise to 50 percent by 2030. National oil companies play a large role in gas liquefaction, with Indonesian and Brazilian parastatals among the most important. But Shell also figures in the top three for liquefaction capacity, and private energy companies primarily run LNG receiving terminals.10

LNG in Nigeria and Mexico and Capital’s Spatial Fix

The Nigerian LNG project at Bonny Island—a joint venture between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, Shell, ENI (Agip) Italy, and Total—was first proposed in 1989, and became operational a decade later. The liquefaction and export of natural gas is the Nigerian oil industry’s external solution to the problem of flaring in the Niger Delta—where 70–80 percent of gas extracted alongside petroleum (known as associated gas) is burned, the highest rate in the world—leading to acid rain and erosion that effects fishing and local wildlife. Huge surface flares light up the night sky. Since the Ogoni mobilization and Ken Saro-Wiwa’s execution in the 1990s, these flares have become symbolic of the impunity with which environmental and human rights norms are disregarded by the global oil industry in Nigeria.11 Flaring occurs at a rate of at least 2.5 billion cubic feet per day with many riverine villages “never knowing a dark night.”12 Shell Nigeria is the largest single flarer.

Unsurprisingly, after fifty years of ongoing flaring, this industrial form of waste elimination is an indelible part of the region’s socio-ecology. Condemned by the Ogoni, Ijaw, and other Nigerian “oil minorities” as a violation of indigenous rights, flaring in the Delta is seen as a clear manifestation of environmental racism, or “global apartheid,” as applied to the exploitation of natural resources. In protest against oil extraction in the Delta in 1999, Ijaw youth initiated “Operation Climate Change” whose aim was to “extinguish the flares.” In the context of a history of harsh repression of protests and blockades, and the increased presence of militia groups acting as both security and threat to the oil industry, resistance in the Delta has been radicalized. In the last two years media reports on precarious oil supplies include references to the violent Deltan “crisis.”13

In addition to the release of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, attention to global climate change makes flaring practices in the Delta a further target of criticism: The World Bank estimates that, due to flaring, Nigeria had contributed more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than all other Sub-Saharan African countries combined by 2002. Environmental advocates inside and outside Nigeria have condemned the possibility of using flaring elimination to gain carbon credits (i.e., World Bank Clean Development Mechanism financing) under Kyoto, employing a recent Nigerian High Court ruling defining flaring as a violation of human/environmental rights and illegal on that basis.

The actual site of the LNG plant, Bonny Island, was a key port for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade—the lasting impact of which some theorists believe helps explain the salience of tribal divisions in the contemporary Nigerian state.14 On Bonny Island itself, an ecologically protected area at Finima was established as a requirement of the Nigerian LNG Environmental Impact Assessment. This protected area is administered by a Nigerian environmental NGO.15 The Nigerian LNG project and the public affairs programs it has advanced are today deployed as industry-community models, departing from divisive “host-community” policies which stoked inter-communal violence, and promoting improved social and environmental performance.

However, the harsh reality is that competitive violence over oil industry access payments and “piracy” (or contraband oil trade) in the Bonny region has continued, including kidnappings of Nigerian and expatriate oil workers. The marketing of the product elsewhere allows it to escape a region marked as too risky for domestic infrastructural investment. Concurrently the transfer of LNG allows capital an opportunity to engage in a kind of “spatial fix,” overcoming an over-exploited “socio-nature”/resource base, and a regime of overaccumulation of capital through the sale of LNG abroad. 

The shipment overseas of LNG from Nigeria to Mexico allows the oil industry to benefit from the latter’s stability as well as its proximity to the largest domestic market in the world. Shell’s Altamira terminal in Tamaulipas State, of which it holds 50 percent—with Total and Mitsubishi holding another 25 percent each—is Mexico’s first regasification plant, operational prior to the Sempra/Shell terminal at Costa Azul. The port at Tampico, just South of Altamira, is a historical pivot in Mexican oil extraction. The broader Huasteca region of which it forms a part became famous for its “gushers” and was at once a “huge source of wealth and environmental destruction.” Its workers were central to the push for the 1938 expropriation of the former Shell and Standard Oil subsidiary companies—El Aguila and Huasteca.

Building on article 27 of Mexico’s revolutionary 1917 constitution, the 1938 oil expropriation put into practice the national exploitation of sub-soil resources. Through worker mobilization, and spurring major conflicts with the U.S. and UK governments, this expropriation was finally accepted, as it served U.S. financial interests. It provided Mexico the collateral to take out loans for industrial and infrastructural development. Not only did the expropriation express labor control over the means of production but, as Myrna Santiago demonstrates, it gave rise to an important conservationist sensibility—aiming to protect the resource for use by future generations of Mexicans.16

The Mexican expropriation marked a global turning point, the first case of a Southern oil exporter expelling multinational oil companies from its territory, over three decades prior to the creation of OPEC. But where OPEC would seek to control global prices of the commodity, Mexico’s expropriation expressed what would become a key tenet of Latin American import-substitution industrialization, the use of primary resources for national development rather than foreign exchange.

As LNG terminals are a prime strategic investment for foreign industry, they are also a target for contemporary protests against the denationalization of the Mexican oil industry. Since the Salinas de Gortari presidency, portions of the Mexican national oil company have been decentralized and in some cases privatized. These shifts occurred in a general economic climate that committed Mexican energy sources to rapid development, a condition of the U.S. financial bailout to the country following the 1994 peso crash that trailed the implementation of NAFTA and the Zapatista uprising. The marketization of LNG as “non-extractive” is in fact an important arena in the current debate concerning the creeping denationalization and privatization of the Mexican oil and gas sector—which has deepened in the aftermath of the highly contentious 2006 presidential elections taken by the conservative PAN in dubious circumstances. The Mexican Constitution continues to prohibit foreign or private firms from extraction and production of energy although not marketing. Thus the legality of LNG projects in Mexico has been challenged by various national groups, including coalitions of professional staff and democratic workers associations of the Mexican national oil company (Pemex), as a threat to energy sovereignty.17

The movement of LNG from Nigeria to a terminal in Mexico provides us with a window on the socio-ecological crises of hydrocarbon consumption and the industry’s contradictory attempt to resolve these crises. In Nigeria, industry and government frames LNG as a solution to social and ecological ills more easily than in the North American context. The infrastructural and social marginalization of the Delta region and the country as a whole makes its domestic energy sector unappealing for investors—despite a considerably underserved domestic market in natural gas. The violence that has become an indelible part of the Nigerian operating environment, attributable in part to the community affairs practices of the oil industry, is avoided while the outcry associated with the flaring of the region’s gas is discursively countered. Shipping the gas out of Nigeria and into Mexico is clearly a more lucrative option for an industry that purports to address the curse associated with hydrocarbon dependency nationally and globally.

LNG and its Discontents

Yet, the shifting of LNG to terminals in North America, where it will be available for the North American market and distributed under relatively stable conditions, has run into opposition. Over the last two years, a series of proposed LNG terminals in California and Baja California have been defeated due to sustained citizen protest—not a single terminal has been approved in California. Recently LNG terminals have been cancelled near Long Island, New York, in Oxnard, California, and near Ensenada, Baja California, and deferred in Canada. Active opposition to proposed terminals in Maine has spurred a regional coalition that includes the Canadian province of New Brunswick.18In 2008, the Clintons and Barack Obama acknowledged popular campaigns against planned LNG terminals in Oregon.19 Public opposition to the terminals has revolved around negative environmental impacts, the risk of accidents, and the threat of terrorist attacks on them. Mother Jones referred to them as “floating targets” in 2007.20

According to official U.S. sources, ten serious LNG accidents have occurred since the 1940s worldwide but with few fatalities. As such, Congress gave LNG land terminals a relatively safe rating in a 2003 report. In 2005 a Washington state-based public interest group took issue with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s LNG safety approval. The report for the Pipeline Safety Trust counters that “for a variety of significant reasons, past operating records do not provide an appropriate perspective for the analysis of LNG risks. Overemphasis on past operations to predict future failures is a characteristic of poor risk management techniques, particularly for such complex systems.”21

While proponents of LNG portray it as “methane that is colorless, odorless and non-toxic,” environmental groups marshal contrary data.22 Not only does LNG include additional hydrocarbons like ethane, propane, and other contaminants, the receiving facilities bring together four major risks: high-energy density, huge inventories, unusual release dynamics associated with extreme cold (cryogenic temperatures), and very large impact zones of potential explosions.23 Official U.S. regulatory discourse describes LNG as “non-explosive” in its liquid state, a trait that does not differentiate it from other flammable liquids. But critics point out that LNG varies since it is held at unnaturally cool temperatures. A major LNG spill in Cleveland in 1944 resulted in a fire that killed 128 people. In its opposition to projects in Baja California, Greenpeace Mexico cited accidents at Staten Island in 1975 with a death toll of 45; a gas cloud in Boston in 1988, and an accident in Algeria—the second largest exporter of LNG globally—that killed 23.

Alongside socio-environmental risks, the West Coast coalition under the Ratepayers for Affordable Clean Energy (RACE) banner highlights how LNG projects largely serve to guarantee profits for crony energy companies. A former member of the California Public Utilities Commission called LNG development the “single largest change in the state’s energy infrastructure” since the 1950s.24 Were these projects to proceed, capital investment would tie the West Coast to gas rather than renewables, under the thumb of an energy sector already tarnished by price and supply manipulation during California’s 2000–01 energy crisis. Crucially, the role of the state regulators in pushing through LNG at the behest of key industry actors is openly condemned by the RACE coalition. They point to a California Public Utilities Commission ruling allowing utilities “the right to not renew contracts for domestic natural gas so these utilities can enter into LNG supply contracts, in essence favoring LNG from abroad over supplies from the Western United States and Canada.”25 The correct policy choice, argues RACE, is the continued usage of domestic gas sources that are more easily monitored for environmental impacts, less costly, and less hazardous than LNG receiving terminals. Concurrently, the demand for natural gas should be reduced via implementation of California’s clean energy laws and policies.

Though proposed LNG sources vary, many are typical extractive areas: economically and spatially isolated locations, communities socio-historically marginalized in racial/cultural and class terms, which may be ecologically rich but in which environmental regulations are relatively weak or minimally enforced. Among the early ecologically controversial LNG projects was a Royal Dutch Shell project on Russia’s Sakhalin Island marked as a threat to the Western Gray Whale. The Sakhalin II project prompted opposition in California from the organization Pacific Environment, which eventually spearheaded the establishment of the RACE coalition.

In the case of North American LNG, marginality is similarly desirable for terminal sites, especially in the midst of the “terror-target” hype. Accordingly, this makes Mexico a relatively attractive terminal site. In addition to lower labor and construction costs, certain industrial practices are tolerated that would be prohibited on the other side of the border. For instance, in Mexico LNG terminals may employ sea-water to warm the gas to normal temperature. Greenpeace Mexico’s campaign against LNG terminals, launched in 2004, employed a discourse of resource sovereignty as well as ecology, merging environmental movements with nationalist branches of the energy sector.26

To date, on the West Coast, only one LNG terminal has proceeded in the state of Baja California but not without a struggle. This is the Sempra facility that became functional in April 2008. Initiated by Shell Mexico, the company began to distance itself from the project in 2005, following opposition from a coalition that included both a Tijuana housewives association and a San Diego surfer’s club.27 Sempra then took it over, with Shell purchasing 50 percent of Sempra’s interests, but Shell’s name is not publicly associated with the terminal.28 Another proposed LNG terminal nearby in Puerto Libertad, Sonora has received support from the Sonora state government. According to the U.S. Department of Energy the latter has signed an agreement for a pipeline system to distribute the gas in both Mexico and the United States.

In Baja California, as in California, opposition to terminals is buttressed by the relatively advantaged sectors that oppose its development. On both sides of this border, these include tourism and real estate as well as the environmental movement which holds historical weight on the U.S. West Coast. In Baja California press attention was successfully harnessed, and a major Mexican television network produced a twenty-minute documentary critical of the LNG projects complete with ominous music. Following protest by a cross-border group of ecologists, NGOs, and fishing cooperatives, a proposed Chevron LNG terminal at the Islas Coronados, Baja California was cancelled in April 2007. The islands provide a habitat for a vulnerable marine bird, the Xantus, on which basis a case was taken to NAFTA’s Committee on Environmental Cooperation in 2005.29

California and Baja California resistance differs quite markedly from that on the Gulf Coast. Nine of the ten existing North American LNG terminals are located in the Gulf region and the northeast. Five are sited in Texas and Louisiana, one in Georgia, and two in New England. Louisiana and Texas share a long history of petroleum industry presence reflected in the relative amenability of those sites to receiving terminals.30 Of the ten, two are Mexican terminals: the aforementioned Sempra Costa Azul terminal between Ensenada and Tijuana and the one at Altamira, Tamaulipas. Tamaulipas shares the U.S. Gulf Coast’s long oil industry history, and its Huasteca region saw severe environmental degradation through the first half of the twentieth century.31 Over time the presence of the oil industry and a powerful national petroleum workers’ union has tied generations of Mexico’s Gulf State inhabitants to hydrocarbon production.

The Shell Tamaulipas LNG was initially to be supplied by Venezuela. But this project was cancelled in 2005, as Venezuela’s PDVSA (oil parastatal) took an increasingly sovereigntist stance regarding extraction, and removed both Shell and Mistubishi from its Mariscal-Sucre LNG project. It was under these circumstances that Shell Mexico moved to supply the plant from further afield—the Nigerian LNG project. The Nigerian-Mexican LNG relationship under the aegis of U.S. capital is thus partly a response of North American capitalism to limits imposed by Venezuelan resistance to foreign capital and embrace of regional energy sovereignty.

In the face of such resource sovereignty movements in the Global South, the movement of LNG from Nigeria to a terminal in Mexico—for U.S. consumption—is an example of the industry’s attempt to resolve the crises associated with on-going hydrocarbon extraction. It also manifests the ongoing transfer of “natural capital” that has been central to the development of global capitalism.32 In Mexico, LNG terminals face weaker environmental regulations and a (somewhat) less oppositional public than in the United States toward which the gas is ultimately destined. Yet the privatized nature of LNG development in Mexico is hotly debated, and figures prominently in struggles over the future of the Mexican energy sector and the national economy. As a global “band-aid” for fossil capitalism, the costs and complications associated with LNG thus attract increasing public scrutiny and critique.


  1. Elmar Altvater, “The Social and Natural Environment of Fossil Capitalism,” in Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, ed., Socialist Register 2007 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2006).
  2. See
  3. John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, “Ecological Imperialism: The Curse of Capitalism,” in Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, ed., Socialist Register 2004 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2003), 186–201. David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), and Spaces of Hope (Berkeley: University of Califonria Press, 2000). Lorenzo Meyer, Mexico and the United States in the Oil Controversy 191742 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972).
  4. Texts include Richard Auty, Sustaining Development in Mineral Economies (London: Routledge, 1993); Terry Lynn Karl, The Paradox of Plenty (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); and M. Ross, “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?” World Politics 53, no. 3 (2001): 325–61. See M. Watts, “Resource curse?” Geopolitics 9, 1 (50–80) for critique of some conventional approaches to the oil-conflict nexus and K. Omeje, ed., Extractive Economies and Conflicts in the Global South (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2008).
  5. See for instance Lorenzo Meyer and Isidro Morales, Petróleo y nación (Mexico D.F.: Colegio de Mexico, 1990).
  6. A problem that became more pronounced in the period following the debt crisis, a crisis that in fact resulted from the need for Northern banks to recycle the petro-dollars which Southern oil exporters deposited there during the oil shocks of the 1970s.
  7. Foster and Clark, “Ecological Imperialism” Jason W. Moore, “Environmental Crises and the Metabolic Rift in World-Historical Perspective,” Organization & Environment 13, no. 2 (2000): 123–57.
  8. Gavin Bridge, “Gas, and How to Get It,” Geoforum 35 (2005): 395–97.
  9. See Paulina Jaramillo, W. M. Griffin, and H. S. Matthews “Comparative Life-Cycle Air Emissions of Coal, Domestic Natural Gas, LNG, and SNG for Electricity Generation.”  Environmental Science and Technology 41, no. 17 (2007): 6290–96.
  10. Faith Birol, “LNG in the World Energy Outlook,” International Energy Agency Presentation to “Making Gas Market Global Workshop,” Paris, 2005.
  11. See Ike Okonta, When Citizens Revolt (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2008); Don Pedro, Ibiba, Oil in the Water (Lagos, Foreword Communications,2006); Cyril Obi, The Changing Forms of Iden Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala, 2001).
  12. For detailed statistics see Environmental Rights Action Nigeria, (Friends of the Earth), Gas Flaring in Nigeria, 2005.
  13. Ukoha Ukiwo, “From ‘pirates’ to ‘militants,’” African Affairs 2007 106, no. 425: 587–610; Peterside and Zalik “The Commodification of Violence in the Niger Delta” in Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, eds., Socialist Register 2009. (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008).
  14. Peter P. Ekeh, “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 17 (1975): 91–112.
  15. At Finima, the administering NGO often finds discarded pipes and other industrial waste on the protected site (author’s fieldwork 2003, 2006).
  16. For further details on ecological destruction in this period see Myrna Santiago, The Ecology of Oil (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 133.
  17. See
  18. See Tyler Hamilton, “Is LNG Flame Burning Out?” Toronto Star, April 12, 2008. Also See
  19. See The Daily Astorian, May 13, 2008. On visiting Astoria, Bill Clinton referred to Hilary’s opposition to the 2005 Energy Policy Act that placed approbatory power for LNG terminals with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This is partially contested, see
  20. James Ridgeway, “Homeland Security: Floating Targets,” Sept. 6, 2007.
  21. Richard Kuprewicz, et al., Public Safety and FERC’s LNG (Bellingham, WA: Pipeline Safety Trust, 2005). The Pipeline Safety Trust was formed in 1999 following the Olympic Pipeline explosion near Bellingham.
  23. Kuprewicz, et al., Public Safety and FERC’s LNG. Various forms of LNG hazards are identified in the report—pool fires, flammable vapor clouds, and flameless explosions. In the case of pool fires the ignition of evaporating gas would lead to an increase in the “pool size” as LNG expanded away from its source. Due to inability to extinguish such a fire prior to the consumption of all the LNG at source, thermal radiation could injure people and property at considerable distance. If a similar spill does not ignite, it could drift some distance away where it might encounter a source of ignition and burn at varying degrees in various parts—dependent on concentration.
  24. Loretta Lynch, formerly California Public Utilities Commissioner,
  25. The California Public Utilities Commission denied the RACE coalition’s demand for public hearings on LNG in the state. See Rory Cox and Robert Freehling, “Collision Course,” 24.
  26. Greenpeace Mexico, Press Release, May 29, 2004. “To accept the Transnationals Liquefied Natural Gas project implies energy dependence, high risks and that we accept being the United States backyard.”
  27. See
  28. See U.S. Energy Information Administration/Department of Energy, Mexico Country Analysis Brief, January 2007.
  29. In a 2004 briefing on Mexican Gas projects, a business source highlighted Mexican Congressional opposition to the Chevron Islas Coronado project, twenty miles off the coast “under the argument that foreign multinational companies will end up having control of Mexican sovereign waters.” Haynes and Boone LLP, “Mexico’s Gas Markets.” Available at
  30. William Freudenburg and Robert Gramling, Oil in Troubled Waters (Albany: SUNY, 2004).
  31. On this point see Santiago, The Ecology of Oil.
  32. Jason W. Moore, “Environmental Crises and the Metabolic Rift in World-Historical Perspective,” Organization & Environment 13, no. 2 (2000): 123–57; John Bellamy Foster, “Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift: Classical Foundations for Environmental Sociology,” American Journal of Sociology 2 (1999): 366–405.
2008, Volume 60, Issue 06 (November)
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