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Economics/Industry, Poverty
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Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa
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Oil, Congo, Petroleum, Africa, Central Africa, Chad, Cameroon, Justice, Pollution, Natural Resources
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Effects of oil exploration in a world where it is increasingly the catalyst of conflict, exploitation and global pollution. Tribes in Africa are being flushed out of their natural environments and communities
Marcus Bleasdale
2005 professional winner
“The vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience” -Joseph Conrad

Effects of oil exploration in a world where it is increasingly the catalyst of conflict, exploitation and global pollution. Tribes in Africa are being flushed out of their natural environments and communities in Siberia are being uprooted and moved en masse.

Global Oil exploration is the twentieth century fuel of the economic boom, all developed countries and many developing countries have been involved with since the first world war. But, increasingly we are looking at the costs of this expansionism and exploitation of the world’s natural resources.

Decreasing deposits in the developed world are causing further exploration into less developed countries, which have been too remote or too dangerous to access. This pushing of boundaries is leading to some of the worlds oldest communities being decimated and pushed toward virtual extinction.

Central Africa

There is a huge new boom in oil exploration throughout central Africa. Following the end of the cold war rivalries in the region and the development of new technologies in the last decade, oil companies are falling over themselves to offer lucrative contracts to governments in Cameroon, Chad, the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola.

The World Bank plans to fund an oil pipeline through Central African rainforests that will bring profits to Shell, Exxon, and Elf while causing environmental havoc and threatening local populations - all with US taxpayers backing the deal. The oil companies are about to build a 600-mile pipeline from the Doba oil fields in Chad to coastal Cameroon, slashing through fragile rainforest that is home to the Baka and Bakola peoples, communities of traditional hunter-gatherers.

Oil industry experts say the pipeline could deliver between 150,000 and 250,000 barrels per day from the Kom, Miandoum, Bolobo and Sdigui fields. “Once construction begins, we’ll see an uncontrollable influx of people in search of work even though it will be poorly paid - the result will be deforestation, wild-life poaching and the loss of community land”. Says Environmental Defense Fund economist Konna Horta.
Marcus Bleasdale is one of the world's leading documentary photographers. He increasingly uses his work to influence decision makers and policy makers around the world. His work on human rights and conflict have been shown at the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the United Nations and the Houses of Parliament in the UK.

Marcus' work also appears in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Sunday Times Magazine, the Telegraph Magazine, Stern, Le Monde, Time Magazine, Newsweek and National Geographic.

Marcus lives in Oslo with his wife Karin Beate and is a member of VII photo.
Markers define the route of the pipeline between Chad and Cameroon. The pipe now rests hidden underground, but the human costs of the pipeline are plainly visible along the 1050 km route. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation
Fishermen in Kribi, pick at the meager catch. Fish stocks dropped to almost nothing after the pipeline was laid. There has been virtually no compensation for the thousands of fishermen whose livelihood depends on fish stocks. More than half of the fishermen have abandoned their pirogues. Those who stay can no longer afford to school their children or feed them regularly. The pipeline carries 225,000 barrels of oil a day and benefits to the US consortium over will be $8bn. Human rights abuses and health problems all caused by the pipeline are common place. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation
Fishermen in Kribi, look at the meager catch, the result of 12 hours fishing. Fish stocks dropped to almost nothing after the pipeline was laid. There has been virtually no compensation for the thousands of fishermen whose livelihood depends on fish stocks. More than half of the fishermen have abandoned their pirogues. Those who stay can no longer afford to school their children or feed them regularly. The pipeline carries 225,000 barrels of oil a day and benefits to the US consortium over will be $8bn. Human rights abuses and health problems all caused by the pipeline are common place. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation
Fishermen in Kribi who have given up fishing now "Fish Sand" for building. Fish stocks dropped to almost nothing after the pipeline was laid. There has been virtually no compensation for the thousands of fishermen whose livelihood depends on fish stocks. More than half of the fishermen have abandoned their pirogues. Those who stay can no longer afford to school their children or feed them regularly. The pipeline carries 225,000 barrels of oil a day and benefits to the US consortium over will be $8bn. Human Rights abuses and health problems all caused by the pipeline are common place. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation
Sons of Anna (not her real name) dig her grave. She died from tuberculosis. Her home is adjacent to the pipeline where 225,000 barrels a day are pumped through yet the oil companies do not supply anything for of health care to the areas it affects. The nearest health center from here was 47 kilometers away. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation 
62 year old Madalene shows sores that are all over her body as a result of drinking the water from the wells near the pipeline. Bacteria from the forest now runs into all of the well water in the area making it dangerous to drink. Yet the closest alternative well is 8 km away and many are forced to use the polluted sources resulting in sickness. The consortium has been aware of this situation for 4 years and has done nothing. In this town 75% of the residents now suffer from waterborne illnesses. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation 
The murky dirty spring water is used by most villagers along the pipeline. Many here are sick as a result of drinking the water from the wells near the pipeline. Bacteria from the forest now runs into all the well water in the area making it dangerous to drink. Yet the closest alternative well is 8 km away and many are forced to use the polluted sources resulting in sickness. The consortium has been aware of this situation for 4 years and has done nothing. In this town 75% of the residents now suffer from waterborne illnesses. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation 
Sisters of Anna (not her real name) who died from tuberculosis mourn her passing before the burial. Her home is adjacent to the pipeline where 225000 barrels a days are pumped through yet the oil companies do not supply any for of health care to the areas it affects. The nearest health center from here was 47 kilometers away. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation 
A local petrol station in Cameroon where there is a shortage and prices recently rose by 35% despite the fuel running through their 'back yard'. They have seen no economic benefits from the oil apart from the large houses that have been built for the ministers. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation
The Cameroon oil rig burns brightly off the coast whilst the local fishermen try to raise a small living from the seas affected by the pipeline running through it. Marcus Bleasdale/Alexia Foundation