Discuss as:

Extremes of wealth and poverty revealed in photographs of Nigerian oil industry

Christian Lutz / Agence VU via HOST Gallery

Nigeria, Abuja, 04 February 2010.
NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) complex.

Christian Lutz / Agence VU via HOST Gallery

Nigeria. May 2010.
Water polluted by oil, Niger Delta.

Christian Lutz / Agence VU via HOST Gallery

Nigeria, Lagos, 22 November 2009.
Swimming pool at a private beach club on the Lagos lagoon.

Christian Lutz / Agence VU via HOST Gallery

Nigeria, Okerenkoko, 26 May 2010
Gbaramatu Kingdom, Niger Delta State.

Christian Lutz / Agence VU via HOST Gallery

Nigeria. Lagos. December 31, 2009.
Lagos Yacht Club, New Year's Eve party.

According to a report in today's New York Times, billions of dollars in oil revenues raised by the Nigerian government are unaccounted for. The newspaper reports that the country's Excess Crude Account contained about $30 billion in late 2008, almost all of which is now gone. A maximum of $8 billion of spending has been accounted for in the intervening period.

"Where the hell did the remaining $22 billion-plus go?", asked a government adviser interviewed by the Times.

Tropical Gift, a photo exhibition running now at HOST Gallery in London, examines the closed world of those dealing with oil and gas in the Niger Delta.

During three trips to Nigeria in 2009 and 2010, photographer Christian Lutz gained extraordinary access into the dark halls of power of the corporations that govern Nigeria's oil. His pictures contrast the opulent lifestyle of the oil executives with the crushing poverty of local residents.

"I thought it would be more expressive if I underscored that side of the story," Lutz told the British Journal of Photography. "I was a wealthy white in Nigeria, and I used this to get mixed up with the community. I ate fresh sushi that cost $150, and swam in their pools and drank some great South African wine, but I could hardly stand it. It made me sick. I never want to go back. How can we eat sushi in West Africa when the fish for the local population have been annihilated by the oil spillage? The population split in Nigeria is so extreme, it becomes surreal."

The exhibition runs at HOST Gallery until March 1.
More images from the story are available at Agence Vu and an accompanying book has been published by Lars Müller.