A New Entry into the World Oil Market: Nigeria and Its Relations with the Atlantic Powers, 1967-1973


Oil was found for the first time in commercial quantity in Nigeria in 1956 with the outbreak of the Six Days’ War it became of paramount importance for the West. It could not also be ignored that Arab producers were acquiring such a big surplus of financial reserves that they were already able to stop production for a considerable span of time. The Nigerian civil war ended in January 1970 and oil represented a valid alternative to traditional sources of supply. The West African country started to give priority to strengthening ties with fellow-Africans and cooperating with other Third World countries. The American policy towards black Africa radically changed after the military coup overthrowing the dictatorship in Portugal in 1974. Soviet, Cuban and Chinese aid to national liberation movements of Southern Africa persuaded Kissinger that it had become necessary to contain communist influence in order to avoid a large scale war. Within this context, Nigeria was by far the most important country in black Africa for the United States, being the world’s fifth largest oil exporter and with an estimated forty trillion cubic feet of natural gas. From a poor country located within the British traditional sphere of influence, Nigeria had become a privileged trading partner, thus leading to a commercial rivalry among Western allies.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22808949a1n2p105

Keywords: Oil; Nigeria; Atlantic Powers; United States

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