Oil Bunkering #8, Niger Delta, Nigeria, 2016
Oil is one of Burtynsky’s longstanding interests. His book Oil, published in 2009, explores the impact of the extraction of crude on the planet. In the Niger Delta, in some of the most desecrated landscapes Burtynsky has encountered, illegal distilleries refine crude diverted from pipelines and dump the waste back into the ground, a method known as bunkering. The Nigerian government estimates that between 200,000 and 250,000 barrels are stolen each day. To photograph the region, some of which is controlled by militia, Burtynsky hired a helicopter, mounting his camera on a specialised tripod that could stabilise the image by offsetting the aircraft’s vibrations.