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Vol 43 No 5

Published 8th March 2002

African energy

Western concerns about instability in the Middle East send oil companies south

The United States and its allies have discovered Africa again. After 11 September, and with the Middle East on the boil, African oil and gas encourage Western powers to believe they need not depend on the potentially volatile Arabian (Persian) Gulf. The new mantra of the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Walter Kansteiner III, is that every fifth gallon in US gas tanks will come from Africa by 2005. It helps Kansteiner talk up the importance of his job but also reflects strategic thinking. Africa's western seaboard already exports more oil to the USA than Saudi Arabia. The US National Intelligence Council, a think-tank associated with the Central Intelligence Agency, expects Africa to be providing 25 per cent of US oil imports by 2015, compared to about 15 per cent now.

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