Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Wednesday, November 06, 2002
United States Covets African Oil: PD Analysis
The US recent shuttle diplomatic activities in African oil-producing countries have been especially noticeable. This series of diplomatic activities indicate US enhanced evaluation of the strategic status of Africa, especially the region of the Gulf of Guinea in its effort to contend for the world oil resources
The US recent shuttle diplomatic activities in African oil-producing countries have been especially noticeable: US Secretary of State Colin Powell and other high-ranking officials visited Angola, Gabon and other countries one after another in early September, Powell cut the ribbon for the new buildings of US embassy in Angola;
President George W. Bush met, in New York in mid-August, with heads of state of 10 African oil-producing countries, including Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, the Congo (B), Sao Tome & Principe;
US assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner visited Gabon, Cote d'Ivoire and other Mid-west oil-producing countries in October following his tours of Nigeria and other countries in July. The US government has also announced that President Bush will visit five-African nations next year.
This series of diplomatic activities indicate US enhanced evaluation of the strategic status of Africa, especially the region of the Gulf of Guinea in its effort to contend for the world oil resources.
The United States is the largest oil consumption country in today's world, its average daily oil consumption accounts for almost one-third of the world total consumption. US oil consumption is estimated to increase around 36 percent in the coming 20 years. Two-thirds of American oil consumption depend on imports, 60 percent of which come from the Gulf region.
Owing to the situation of the Gulf region's long-term territorial disputes, national contradictions and unending conflicts of religious sects, particularly counter-terrorist war and US preparations for military attacks on Iraq, the United States is worried that its normal energy supply would be affected, therefore, opening up a new channel for secure, reliable and stable oil/gas reserves has become the country's priority strategic consideration.
Africa's oil/gas resources are concentrated in the area of the Gulf of Guinea, the main oil-producing area of this region is located on the continental shelf and is far removed from the center of tribal and other conflicts, and oil production is relatively safe, this, plus high-quality, less sulfur content as well as low transport cost compared to the Caspian Sea and the Middle East, so this region is regarded as an ideal "reserved oil depot" by the United States. The assistant US secretary of state recently said that African oil is the strategic goal of the United States.
Africa is one of the important oil-producing regions in the world. Reports say that 7 billion barrels of the globe's newly proven deposit of 8 billion barrels of crude oil in 2001 are produced in the region of the Gulf of Guinea in Africa, currently, the daily oil production in the region has topped 4.5 million barrels.
In recent years, US oil companies have vied with one another to enter Africa's petroleum exploration and recovering fields, Exxon, Chervron and other companies have invested US$3.7 billion (the largest US investment in Africa) in building an oil pipeline leading from Chad to Cameroon. US daily oil imports from Nigeria has reached 900,000 barrels on average, ranking Nigeria fifth in American oil imports; Angola's current daily oil production approaches 1 million barrels, 70 percent of which are recovered and exported by American firms to the United States, making Angola the ninth largest oil source for the United States.
According to a report of the US National Security Committee, the oil imported by the United States from African countries south of the Sahara makes up around 16 percent of US total oil imports, and this figure will rise to 25 percent in 2015.
US investment in African oil-producing countries has increased remarkably in recent years, and its trade volume there has risen annually. It is predicted that US trade volume will exceed US$45 billion by 2005, an 18 percent increase over the current level, of which oil is imported mainly from Africa. According to the plan recently mapped out by the US Energy Department, the United States will invest US$10 billion in Africa's oil industry.
At the moment when the United States has launched large-scale counter-terrorist activities, the country declares that it will put in huge investments in Africa's oil, strive to improve and enhance its relations with African oil producers and encourage domestic oil companies to race to seize African oil-producing areas, thereby reducing its dependence on the Gulf for oil.
International opinion holds that Africa's status in the US diplomatic chessboard has witnessed a marked rise whether in terms of political or economic consideration.