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Storyville: Power, Money, Greed and Oil

Storyville: Power, Money, Greed and Oil

Mon Jun 24, 10-11.30pm, BBC4

By Phil Harrison
The man from Norway calls it ‘the resource curse’. The oil money, he says, ‘belongs to the people of Ghana’. And he’s right. But then, Norway isn’t Ghana. It doesn’t lack infrastructure. It isn’t disfigured by poverty or riddled with suspicions of corruption. If you’re Ghana and you strike black gold, perhaps you have little choice but to jump into the arms of Texan oilmen and hope for the best. And, of course, no one sees that more clearly than the oilmen themselves.

Rachel Boynton’s film is a patient, even-handed affair and all the more depressing for being so predictable. The various manoeuvrings see interests placated, promises broken, bucks passed. Eventually, the oil is still mainly in the ground and Ghana’s back where it started. Look out for the crushingly inevitable postscript though – after one year of production, the scores on the doors are as follows; foreign oil companies: $2 billion; the Ghanian exchequer: $444 million. Did anyone not see that coming?

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