The Financial Times on Tuesday quoted Nigerian officials as saying they were looking to China and other nations because, in the words of Vice President Atiku Abubakar, talks with the United States on security in the oil-rich Niger Delta are not "moving as fast as the situation is unfolding."
Corruption in Nigeria and lawlessness in the resource-rich Niger Delta remain a serious concern. Attacks and kidnappings against Western oil interests in the delta, which makes most of Nigeria's crude, have troubled the government and investors. Recent attacks have reduced exports by some 20 percent in the world's eighth-largest oil exporter.
China, which already supplies fighter planes to Nigeria, is expected to provide patrol boats to monitor the delta where the local population is demanding a greater share of the oil revenues.
Nigeria said it wants 200 boats for the delta, but the United States, which provides military technical help and training, has given only four vessels, the Times said.
In its bid to quench its insatiable thirst for energy, China has diversified its supply sources and has emerged a key player in Africa. Last year, Nigeria signed an $800 million deal with state-owned PetroChina to supply 30,000 barrels of oil a day.
In 2006, China paid $2.3 billion for a share in another Nigerian oil block.