Has Obama Just Kicked Off Another Oil War -- This Time in Africa?
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Later, in May 2004, Kantsteiner chaired a congressionally funded Africa Policy Advisory Panel report titled, "Rising U.S. States in Africa," in which he stated, "African oil is of national strategic interest to us, and it will increase and become more important as we go forward."
In the midst of these summits, the U.S. set up crucial military bases -- in spring 2003 in Djibouti, a base called Camp Lemmonier, and in 2004 at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda.
The U.S. was now firmly implanted in the region to begin an African safari, featuring, most prominently, tours of prospective and already existing oil rigs and pipelines spanning every contour of the continent.
Oil Safari to Uganda
Not long after AFRICOM became a reality, multinational corporations also flocked into Uganda to search for oil.
The search was a flaming success story, with 2.5 billion barrels of oil now having been discovered, but still to this date, not yet procured. The royalties accompanying the oil's usage could reach up to $2 billion a year by 2015, reported the Economist in May 2010.
This oil is located off of Lake Albert in northwest Uganda, a lake shared by both Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Multinational corporations are required to sign something known as a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with the Ugandan government in order to drill for Uganda's oil. In essence, a PSA is a contractual agreement between a foreign corporation benefiting from a country's resources and the government of a country whose resources are being benefited from.
In October 2006, according to a WikiLeaks cable, Tullow Oil, a British company, and Heritage Oil, a Canadian company, signed a PSA with the Ugandan government, led by President Yoweri Musveni. This particular PSA, though, was no ordinary one, and indeed, could serve, in part, as an explanation for the logic of Obama's October 14 announcement.
For the first three years the PSA was signed, the details were kept secret from everyone but upper-level Tullow and Heritage executives and Museveni's inner circle. A February 2010 report written by PLATFORM, a British nonprofit organization, titled, "Contracts Curse: Uganda's oil agreements place profit before people," explains the PSA best and for the first time, made public its content.
The PSA, PLATFORM explained, "contain[s] no clauses covering security provision[s]...There is no public agreement setting out the relationship between the oil companies and the military or police forces. Thus it is unclear what promises and guarantees the Ugandan government has made to ensure security and what rights the oil companies have been awarded."
This raised numerous vital questions for PLATFORM, including, "Do oil company security or private military contractors have the right or authority to arrest, injure or kill those they perceive as a threat?" and "Is the Ugandan government incentivised to prioritise security interests over the human rights of local populations?"
That same report also included revelations by PLATFORM that the Ugandan government had constructed a "new military base on ten square miles" near Lake Albert, where the oil was located. The report also disclosed that Museveni had created something called an Oil Wells Protection Unit (OWPU), which amounted to his own security forces, or mercenaries, guarding oil rigs.
Concerned about the OWPU, PLATFORM wrote, "Apparently its mandate is 'to provide physical security for the oil and gas industry' and 'conduct strategic intelligence activities in all areas where oil will be processed and marketed.' However, the OWPU has no Web site and no clearly known structure or chain of command...In this context, the OWPU could easily be misused to repress opposition to oil extraction activities, further political gains by the government and commit human rights abuses without accountability."