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Gambia - Quest for Oil

THE President of Gambia, Yahya Jammer, who seized power in a military coup more than 10 years ago, recently announced the discovery of oil off shore. He did not name the company, but it is known that an Australian, Perth-based company, Fusion Oil and Gas, which is a holding company for other American and Australian corporations, holds the licence from the Gambian government to carry out deep-water exploration.

No actual size of the reserves have, as yet, been given, but Jammer indicated that an offshore rig wou1d be pumping small amounts before the beginning of 2005. Large deposits of crude oi1 have a1so been discovered off Sao Tomé.

Yahya Jammer, in a broadcast, claimed that the discovery would result in "a harvest of prosperity", but did not say for whom. Gambia, with a population of fewer than 1.5 million, is one of the world's poorest countries, with an annual income of £175 per person.

West Africa already supplies the United States with 15 percent of its oil imports and, according to a report in The Guardian (18 February), the share is expected to grow as the Bush administration seeks to reduce its dependence on the Arab states.

Will the discovery, and subsequent production, of oil benefit the workers of Gambia?

More of them may become wage slaves. And the shareholders of the giant oil companies will, no doubt, squeeze surplus value "in a harvest of prosperity" from the workers. The Guardian comments:

"Sub-Saharan Africa is on the verge of a new oil rush, but observers fear that the pattern in Africa’s existing oil exporters, whereby the exploitation of these resources fuels corruption and human rights abuses rather than boosting living standards, will continue."

Quite!

PEN