FACTBOX-Key political risks to watch in the Gulf of Guinea
DAKAR, March 12 (Reuters) - The Gulf of Guinea, a stretch of West Africa's coast spanning more than a dozen countries, is a growing source of oil, cocoa and metals for world markets.
But rising rates of piracy, drug smuggling and political uncertainty in an area ravaged by civil wars and coups have made it a challenging area for investors.
The Gulf of Guinea runs from Guinea on Africa's northwestern tip to Angola in the south and includes Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon.
NEW ENERGY FRONTIER?
Gulf of Guinea nations produce more than 3 million barrels of oil per day - about 4 percent of total global output - mostly for European and American markets, the bulk coming from OPEC member Nigeria (2.2 million bpd).
Smaller producers are Equatorial Guinea (200,000 bpd), Congo Republic (340,000 bpd), Gabon (230,000 bpd), Ghana (80,000 bpd), Cameroon (59,000 bpd) and Ivory Coast (40,000 bpd).
Ghana began producing oil in December 2010 and is expected to raise output to 120,000 bpd sometime this year and 250,000 bpd after three years. Sierra Leone and Liberia hope offshore drilling will produce oil for them too.
Washington estimates the Gulf of Guinea will supply about a quarter of U.S. oil by 2015 and has sent military trainers to the region to help local navies secure shipping as piracy is increasingly becoming a concern. Continued...