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Untapped : the scramble for Africa's oil
Ghazvinian, John H. 1974-
Adult Nonfiction HD9577.A2 G43 2007

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From Publishers' Weekly:

With American relations in the Middle East on shaky ground, the U.S. government and the petroleum industry have turned to Africa as a new source of oil, investing more than a billion dollars a year in the continent since 1990. China and India are also looking to African crude oil, which is lighter and sweeter than its Arab counterpart and thus requires less costly refining, to fuel their booming economies. So Ghazvinian, an Oxford historian armed with a suitcase full of notepads and malaria pills, and a sweaty money belt stuffed with $100 bills, toured a dozen oil-producing nations to see how they'd been affected by the oil boom. What he finds is internal strife: in Nigeria, the only thing that keeps one group of interview subjects from assaulting him is that he doesn't work for Shell. Later, an official in the self-parodying burlesque of a tin-pot kleptocracy, Equatorial Guinea, makes a not-so-veiled threat after soliciting a bribe falls through. Even more stable nations have their problems: in Gabon the national economy was so transformed by oil that the government has to import most of its food from neighboring countries. Ghazvinian's ground-level interviews bring perspective to the chaos, though readers may wish for a map to follow his path through the unfamiliar territory. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Grim reminders of how sudden wealth can be a curse as well as a blessing, these two new books on African oil exploration show how petrodollars have been squandered or misappropriated by corrupt African politicians while their native economies atrophy and Western oil executives look the other way. Ghazvinian, a historian and professional journalist, takes a scholarly approach, providing historical contexts for the evolution of these African countries (e.g., Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, and equatorial Guinea) into such profitable oil zones. He suggests that the appeal of African oil is twofold: the light quality of the oil makes it cheaper to refine than Middle Eastern crude, and the geographic location allows easier delivery to Western markets. Ghazvinian's analysis of the largest African oil producer, Nigeria, is so revealing it could serve as a case study on how sudden petroleum revenues can ruin a country's economy. Journalist Shaxson points out that the United States is currently importing more of its oil from sub-Saharan Africa than from Saudi Arabia, surmising that this relationship will continue to grow. He uncovers instances of possible money laundering that reach into this country, arguably causing the downfall of the historic Riggs Bank in Washington, DC. Both authors document genuine horror stories as well as tales of well-intentioned economic measures gone dreadfully wrong. Unfortunately, Shaxson loses impact by haranguing the reader in the same alarmist tone throughout and fails to integrate his material into a coherent text. Ghavzinian successfully depicts the harsh realities faced by these countries while refraining from offering simplistic remedies. His is the preferred work on this subject and is highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Richard Drezen, Washington Post/New York City Bureau (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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