BUSINESS ABROAD: The Diplomats of Oil

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Along the steaming, mud-covered delta of Africa's Niger River, bare-chested men labored amid crocodiles and screaming parrots this week to push shafts of steel deep into the earth. On the choppy waters of the Persian Gulf, others perched on a crablike platform and sent a snag-toothed bit boring into the ocean bed. Around the world, hundreds of men labored just as sweatily in 35 other countries — from the pampas of Argentina to the back hills of New Zealand — to probe the earth in an eager quest for the substance...

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