U.S. Oil Politics in the "Kuwait of Africa"

U.S. Oil Politics in the "Kuwait of Africa"

Ken Silverstein April 22, 2002
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An article that assesses the relationship between the United States and Equatorial Guinea and describes the continued poverty in Equatorial Guinea despite the country's oil wealth.

"We've found in excess of 500 million barrels of oil here, and we expect that to grow to at least 1 billion-and that's not to say that we won't find more. This is one of the hottest spots in the world right now." The speaker is Jim Musselman, head of Triton Energy, and the spot he's talking about is Equatorial Guinea, a tiny nation located on the west coast of Africa. We're sitting in the front room of his comfortably appointed government villa in the capital city of Malabo, and though it's blistering hot outside, the villa's interior is pleasantly cool. It's one of dozens that the government, flush with oil revenues, has built for visiting foreign dignitaries and businessmen, and that sit inside a walled compound guarded by soldiers posted in towers spaced alongside the perimeter.

Equatorial Guinea has long been one of the poorest and most neglected nations on the planet, but within a few years the country could be producing as much as 500,000 barrels a day-one per capita-which would make it sub-Saharan Africa's third-largest producer behind Nigeria and Angola. Thanks to oil, Equatorial Guinea's economy is projected to grow by 34 percent this year, more than twice the rate of any other nation's. It is also thanks to oil that under George Bush there's been a slow but steady blossoming of relations between the United States, which buys almost two-thirds of Equatorial Guinea's petroleum, and the government of Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who took power in a coup in 1979..."

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