Processing Magazine

Nigeria air-travel watch list spurs an oil backlash

January 14, 2010
According to the Wall Street Journal, the alleged attempt by a Nigerian man to detonate a bomb on a U.S.-bound flight has frayed Nigeria''s diplomatic ties with the U.S., which is the country’s number one buyer of oil. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration recently included Nigeria among 14 countries of interest on the nation’s security watch list. Nigerian officials and politicians in the West African nation were angered. The move, which followed Nigerian Umar Farouk Adulmutallab''s alleged attempt to blow up a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day, means that Nigerians traveling to the U.S. will face increased security screenings upon arrival. Nigeria is the fifth-largest exporter of oil to the U.S. But Nigerian officials lately have said Washington''s moves risk pushing the West African nation closer to China and Iran. The diplomatic sparks have added to tensions in Nigeria, where there is an active antigovernment militancy and mounting dissatisfaction with the long absence of an ill president. China, Iran and India have been courting oil and infrastructure deals with Nigeria. China has expressed interest in a number of oil assets controlled by Western companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., just as the Western companies are considering scaling down their Nigeria operations due to militant violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Meanwhile, China''s biggest energy companies are eager to tap the country. China National Petroleum Corp. is a possible buyer of several assets, officials say. Iran and Nigeria signed an agreement in 2008 to share nuclear technology for power generation.