Tuesday, February 28, 2006

China Moves In On Nigeria's Oilfields And 'Friendship'

Amid private information from Africa that Sinopec is indeed the likely to become operator of Block 2 with ERHC Energy if a PSC is signed as expected on March 14, United Press International has moved a story about the Asian giant's efforts to win broader support in Nigeria.

At the same time as these efforts aimed at strengthening Nigeria's military at a time when the American CIA is predicting the nation is on the verge of disintegration, China has forgiven loans to all of Portugal's former island territories except Sao Tome and Principe, which has been a long-term supporter of Taiwan.

As some will note, China is also unlikely to take issue, as the United States has, with a third term for President Olusegun Obasanjo that a constitutional convention is now considering.

To its credit, the United States is playing by principled rules in Nigeria, but it has been losing favor as more Nigerians see it becoming heavy-handed in its criticism of their president and unually intrusive in its political affairs. The prediction by CIA Director Porter Goss at hearings on his nomination a year ago that Nigeria was in danger of falling apart by 2010 has also not helped. Very recently, American statesmen seem to have moderated and improved their approach, but more needs to be done.

Probably, educated Nigerians believe that the failure of American oil majors to win all the fields they want in the Joint Development Zone and the seizure of some fields that the companies had failed to exploit has resulted in pressure on the U.S. State Dept., which with conservative leadership is more than willing to act as an interlocutor for ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and others.

China doesn't present so many issues - and, of course, its benefits are limited to cash and arms - and it plays the political and the i
intelligence game with mastery.

There is a critical problem developing in Nigeria for the United States, which never before has had a serious competitor for alliances that were securely its own in the past. That means that it is time to reevaluate foreign policy approaches that are not working for us.

A bit of disclosure: UPI is now owned by the Unification Church of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a Korean native and strong ally of Korean and U.S. conservatives, who also owns the Washington Times. Also, thje Nigerian Vice-Presdent was the subject of an FBI search of his home outside Washingtron last year in connection with the Justice Dept. probe of U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).

Here is the UPI story:

(Comtex 02/28 11:25:47)
Nigeria 'let down' by U.S. oil aid
( United Press International )

LAGOS, Nigeria, Feb 28, 2006 (UPI via COMTEX) -- Nigeria is turning to China for military supplies to protect its embattled oil fields, as its vice president says the United States isn't moving fast enough.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Vice President Atiku Abubakar said the U.S. government has offered the Nigerian military technical assistance and training, but has provided only four old coastal patrol boats for use in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where at least 200 are required.

Militant attacks on oil facilities and kidnappings of foreign oil workers this month have shut down one-fifth of oil production in Nigeria, the world's eighth-largest oil exporter.

A senior Nigerian naval official said Nigeria "felt let down" by the reluctance of the U.S. military to offer more support and that the Chinese boats were "a very welcome development."

Last year, Nigeria signed an $800-million deal to supply PetroChina with 30,000 barrels a day of oil.


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