In October 2003, Exxon Mobil took out a page in the New York Times to announce the first shipment of crude oil from Chad:
“Voilà. A new chapter in world energy markets opened in early October when the first cargo of crude oil from the African country of Chad was loaded onto a tanker off the coast of Cameroon….And so with the first oil loaded, an extraordinary project begins to supply energy to the world as well as a better life and a cargo of hope to the people of Chad and Cameroon.”
You can see the entire page at: Voilà!
There are many ways to tell a story, of course. ExxonMobil has told its version of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline story on the official project web site. If you visit the company’s Library page, you can read the news releases and reports. I requested an interview with Exxon officials in Cameroon — their perspective ought to be part of this story, after all — but my request has been refused. The media relations department in Houston sent me PDFs of company news releases instead: OIL EXPORT PROJECT CONTINUES TO DELIVER REVENUE AND CREATE JOBS IN CHAD. That release was dated October 2008, just weeks after the World Bank declared it could no longer support the pipeline project and pulled out of Chad. Yes, there’s definitely more than one way to see things. As for my interview, I’ll keep trying. To be continued…