The Financial Times has slowly woken up to the race for Africa’s oil resources.“In the past decade, Africa has seen an unprecedented boom in oil and gas investment,” writes the paper.
“With big companies shut out, or deterred from investing in the Middle East, Africa has by contrast offered multinationals relatively lenient terms and extensive access to its oilfields in the past 15 years.”
It continues: “The continent has been able to attract money from the biggest supermajors, from ExxonMobil to Shell, looking to exploit its prolific and relatively untapped geology, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea and North Africa.”
In 2006, US President George W Bush laid out a strategy of reducing oil imports from the Middle East – a policy that is likely to result in greater strategic importance for Africa. “The rise of Africa as an energy region is not a short-term trend,” says Robert Gillon of John S. Herold, the industry consultancy.
The paper also touches on the ongoing problems in the Niger Delta, giving it a particularly pro-corporate, but ignorant spin: “The contrast between the multi-billion dollar international oil industry and the grinding realities of Africa is nowhere more apparent than in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, the most prolific zone in the Atlantic basin, from where the US expects to source up to a quarter of its oil imports in the next decade. There, armed militants using an anti-poverty rhetoric have cut a quarter of Nigeria’s production in pre-dawn raids on oil facilities and kidnapped scores of oil workers in the past two years, a potent symbol of the kind of disorder that can occur on the doorstep of huge investments.”