US considers building deep-water port at Sao Tome
The United States is studying whether to build a deep-water port and new airport at Sao Tome, an island nation touted
as a possible Navy base to protect growing Western oil interests in West Africa.
Ambassador Kenneth Moorefield and Sao Tome ministers signed the $ 800,000 study agreement at Sao Tome's current international airport, the US Trade and Development Agency said.
Sao Tome, off oil-rich Nigeria, is one of the lead nations in an oil boom in West Africa as the United States, Asia
and Europe look for alternatives to Middle East oil. West Africa's Gulf of Guinea supplies the United States with 15
% of its oil, a figure projected to grow to 25 % by 2015.
The study on expanding Sao Tome's port and airport is in line with a US agreement to "evaluate opportunities for technical assistance" to Sao Tome, the US statement said. US companies will get the contract for the work, the statement said.
Some US and oil industry officials and Washington energy think-tanks have urged the Bush administration to establish
a US naval base on Sao Tome.
In 2002, Sao Tome President Fradique de Menezes announced that his country and the United States had agreed upon establishment of a US Navy base there. The United States never confirmed any such plans. The US military has acknowledged visits to Sao Tome for what were described as planning talks on security in the Gulf of Guinea.