Oil and Africa

Louis Proyect 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

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 
Atlantic ports.

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.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/19/international/africa/19AFRI.html

Louis Proyect

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