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Black gold brings hope to French Guiana

French Guiana, an overseas department bordering Brazil, is one of France's poorest regions, where unemployment is at a record level. But with oil being discovered, locals are starting to hope for a better life. Will they benefit from the black gold?

Right in the middle of the economic crisis, oil companies Tullow Oil, Shell and Total announced in September 2011 they had discovered an oilfield 150 kilometres off the coast of French Guiana. The find was described as "significant" and "historic".

It is indeed highly relevant for the population of one of the country's poorest areas, and also means France as a nation could become the world’s third or even second oil producer in 15 years’ time, when new sources of oil are expected to be of worldwide importance.

Where is this oilfield? What is happening on the rig today? How much oil is there? What is at stake? What are the environmental risks? And how is all this going down with the local population and the politicians?

Our reporter Nicolas Ransom went to find out more.

By Nicolas RANSOM

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