La fiebre del petróleo de Africa

Se necesita una amenaza al suministro de petróleo para que los líderes mundiales dirijan su atención a Africa. Generalmente olvidado en los periplos de los estadistas, el continente recibió hace poco visitas del presidente de los EU, George Bush, del presidente de China, Hu Jintao, del de Brasil, Lula Da Silva, del canciller alemán Gerhard Schroeder y de muchos otros líderes mundiales. Los comentarios que hicieron en público trataron sobre el desarrollo, los esfuerzos para dar fin a las diversas guerras africanas y a la lucha contra el VIH/SIDA, pero todos tenían el petróleo en mente.

Hay una fiebre del petróleo en el continente, porque la seguridad nacional de todos los países desarrollados depende de un flujo continuo del hidrocarburo, y el Africa subsahariana tiene el 8% de las reservas probadas mundiales. En 2002, la producción fue de 2.1 millones de barriles diarios en Nigeria, 900,000 en Angola, 283,000 en Congo Brazzaville, 265,000 en Guinea Ecuatorial, 247,000 en Gabón, 227,000 en Sudán, 75,000 en Camerún, 28,000 en Sudáfrica, 25,000 en la República Democrática del Congo y 11,000 en Costa de Marfil.

Nada más los EU importan 1.5 millones de barriles diarios del Africa occidental, cantidad igual a la que importan de Arabia Saudita. De acuerdo con el Departamento de Energía de los EU, en esta década las importaciones estadounidenses de petróleo provenientes de Africa llegarán a los 770 millones de barriles al año, a medida que la exploración se intensifique en el Golfo de Guinea, y que los EU ayuden a negociar la paz en países productores de petróleo destrozados por la guerra, como Sudán y Angola, y establezcan bases estratégicas para proteger la producción. Como resultado, los productores de petróleo del Africa occidental ganarán aproximadamente 200 mil millones de dólares en la próxima década, más de 10 veces la cantidad que los países occidentales dedican cada año a la "industria de la asistencia" en la región.

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