Oil and Africa
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Sep 19 10:00:24 MDT 2002
NY Times, Sept. 19, 2002
In Quietly Courting Africa, U.S. Likes the Dowry: Oil
By JAMES DAO
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 Africa, the neglected stepchild of American
diplomacy, is rising in strategic importance to Washington policy makers,
and one word sums up the reason: oil.
Africa already provides about 15 percent of the United States' crude oil
imports, but its share is expected to grow rapidly from new production in
West Africa and construction of a pipeline linking southern Chad to
Within the next decade, recently discovered offshore reserves are expected
to enable West Africa to outproduce the North Sea's oil rigs and capture as
much as 25 percent of America's oil-import market.
Though the Persian Gulf will remain the nation's primary source of imported
crude, the new African oil could reduce dependence on countries like Saudi
Arabia, whose relations with the United States have been strained in the
year since the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The key to security of supply is diversity of supply," said Robin West,
chairman of the Petroleum Financing Company, a consulting firm for the
industry. "And I would argue that West Africa in the near to medium term
will be a more important source of oil to international markets than Russia."
The Bush administration demonstrated its growing interest in Africa by
sending Secretary of State Colin L. Powell there two weeks ago on a
three-nation tour. President Bush has said he intends to visit early next
"Energy from Africa plays an increasingly important role in our energy
security," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told the House International
Relations Committee in June.
New African oil will probably not flow fast enough to compensate for lost
Iraqi production if the United States begins an invasion. In the first half
of this year, the United States imported 110 million barrels of crude oil
from Iraq. But African sources could eventually help soften price shocks
during times of upheaval in the Middle East.
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