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Oil Insecurities: Degradation and Conflict in Papua New Guinea’s Oil Fields | Engaging Resources
New Anthropological Perspectives on Natural Resource Environments

Oil Insecurities: Degradation and Conflict in Papua New Guinea’s Oil Fields

Emma Gilberthorpe, University of East Anglia

Since 1992 Papua New Guinea’s oil industry has developed under relatively green codes of practice. Underground pipelines, contained facilities and controlled gas burning all contribute to minimal disruption. This remit is matched in local interactions by barbed-wire-enclosed compounds and limited communication pathways. One would expect this environment to represent an opposition of industry and indigenous, where efficiency is generated by a lack of the inhibitions caused by environmental degradation and conflict. However, this air of “efficiency” masks negative attributes of cultural conflict, gender inequality, elitism and poverty that contribute to growing socio-economic insecurity. In this paper I examine how networks of obligation and trust have been eliminated by the nuances of primary industry to show how new insecurities are shaped by processes of extraction.