Nigeria, the most populous African country, is filled with oil reserves, particularly in the Niger River Delta. Oil was the main national export, comprising 98% of Nigeria’s export earnings and 83% of government revenue in 2002. Starting in the mid-1980s, the Nigerian government subsidized fuel, letting Nigerians buy oil and gasoline at prices significantly below market levels.
The Ogoni region is a highly oil-rich area in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, populated by approximately 500,000 members of the Ogoni People. Since the Shell Petroleum Development Company discovered oil in Ogoniland in 1958, the region has been plagued with serious environmental degradation resulting from the over 100 oil wells in the area.