Port Harcourt, centre of the oil industry...

[Src: http://www.megastories.com/nigeria/map/harcourt.htm]

Port Harcourt stands at the middle of Nigeria's oil industry, which transformed the country's economic profile dramatically over the decade from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.

Although the first oil fields - which are nearly all in the south of the country - were found

and drilled back in the 1950s, it was not until the late 1960s that the industry was strongly

developed. It was just in time for the oil boom of 1973.

Within about five years, Nigeria had literally billions of dollars in windfall profits that they didn't know what to do with. Founding the country's new capital Abuja was one oil money project, as were immense infrastructural projects to build a road network and a cultural festival called FESTAC, which was estimated to have cost up to $200 million.

Nigeria is now a major exporter, producing nearly two million barrels of oil a day - the same as Kuwait before the Iraqi invasion.

But chaos and corruption have combined to create an almost unique situation in an oil producing country: other sources of revenue are so short that up to 100,000 barrels are thought to be smuggled out of the country illegally every day - in trucks across the borders into Nigeria's west African neighbours, and by ships stealing out of Port Harcourt. Meanwhile petrol is in such short supply inside the country that there are huge queues outside most stations.

The fact that Nigeria's oil is concentrated in the area around Port Harcourt has caused much tension, because while northerners have dominated government southerners feel they have been denied a fair share of the spoils from oil.