Militarization Of Energy Policy: U.S. Africa Command And Gulf Of Guinea
At the beginning of the century, while the United States was still embroiled in military interventions in the Balkans and had launched what would become the longest war in its history in Afghanistan with the invasion of Iraq to follow, it was also laying the groundwork for subordinating the African continent to a new military command.
With 4.5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. accounts for approximately 30 percent of crude oil consumption. Although the world's third largest producer of crude, it imports over 60 percent of what it consumes (12.4 of 20.7 million barrels it uses daily). A decade ago 15 percent of those imports came from the Gulf of Guinea region on Africa's Atlantic Ocean coast, mainly from Nigeria, and it is projected that the proportion will increase to 25 percent in the next four years.
The National Energy Policy Report issued by the Office of Vice President Richard Cheney on May 16, 2001 stated: "West Africa is expected to be one of the fastest-growing sources of oil and gas for the American market. African oil tends to be of high quality and low in sulfur...giving it a growing market share for refining centers on the East Coast of the U.S."
The following year, the Washington, D.C.-based African Oil Policy Initiative Group conducted a symposium entitled "African Oil: A Priority for U. S. National Security and African Development," with the participation of American legislators, policy advisers, the private sector and representatives of the State Department and Defense Department, at which Congressman William Jefferson said:
"African oil should be treated as a priority for U.S. national security post 9-11. I think that...post 9-11 it's occurred to all of us that our traditional sources of oil are not as secure as we thought they were."
As is customary in regards to American foreign policy objectives, the Pentagon was charged with taking responsibility. It immediately went to work on undertaking three initiatives to implement U.S. energy strategy in the Gulf of Guinea: U.S. Africa Command, the first overseas military command inaugurated since 1983. The U.S. Navy's Africa Partnership Station as what has developed into the major component of the Global Fleet Station, linked with worldwide maritime operations like the 1,000-ship navy and the Proliferation Security Initiative and piloted in the area of responsibility of U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Fourth Fleet reactivated in 2008: The Caribbean Sea and Central and South America. The NATO Response Force designed for rapid multi-service (army, air force, navy and marine) deployments outside of the bloc's North American-European area of responsibility.
In recent weeks Ghana joined the ranks of African oil producers, pumping crude oil for the first time from an offshore field in the Gulf of Guinea.
"The Jubilee oil field, discovered three years ago, holds an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of oil, and will begin producing around 55,000 barrels per day in the coming weeks. Oil production is expected, however, to rise to about 120,000 barrels over the next six months, making the country Africa's seventh largest oil producer." 
The Ghanaian oil exploitation is run by a consortium led by Tullow Oil plc, which is based in London and has 85 contracts in 22 countries.
The same source quoted above added:
"The Gulf of Guinea increasingly represents an important source of oil, with the US estimating that it will supply over a quarter of American oil by 2015. It has already sent US military trainers to the region to help local navies to secure shipping.
"Nearby Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Congo Republic are already exporting oil from the Gulf, while Liberia and Sierra Leone remain hopeful of joining the club."
In March of 2010 95 U.S. Marines led by General Paul Brier, commander of U.S. Marine Forces Africa, deployed to the Bundase Training Camp in the Ghanaian capital of Accra for a three-week exercise with the armed forces of the host country, "part of the Africa Partnership Station," which also included the participation of the USS Gunston Hall dock landing ship and "embarked international staff" in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to the government of Ghana, "The US and Ghana [are] at the highest level, work together and at the military level inter-operate, train together, share ideas and skills and...it is important for the two countries' militaries to come together so that Ghana can be at par with the US Army." 
Washington's energy strategy in regards to West Africa is a reflection of its international policy of not only gaining access to but control over hydrocarbon supplies and delivery to other nations, in particular to those countries importing the largest amount of oil and natural gas next to the U.S. itself: China, Japan, India, South Korea and the nations of the European Union.
While, for example, Chinese companies are expanding oil exploration in the African nation of Chad and are embarked on a program to build the country's first refinery and a 300-kilometer pipeline, a U.S-led consortium has been extracting oil in the south of Chad and sending it by pipeline through Cameroon to the Gulf of Guinea, paralleling U.S. strategy in the Caspian Sea Basin vis-a-vis Russia and Iran.
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