Oil…A Pipeline to Prosperity?

Tourists at Bume Beach, opposite the pipeline's marine loading terminal. Photo by Christiane Badgley

I have produced a short film for PBS/Frontline World to mark the 10th anniversary of World Bank engagement in the Chad-Cameroon Oil Development and Pipeline Project. Cameroon: Pipeline to Prosperity? revisits the story of the “model” oil for development project. Ten years ago the oil companies and the World Bank promised that this project would break the resource curse and prove to the world that oil could be a force for good…

What has happened? Watch the film to see how Chad’s oil has impacted life along the pipeline in Cameroon.

This work was produced with support from Frontline World, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Cameroon: Pipeline to Prosperity? is the first installment in my ongoing exploration of Africa’s booming oil industry, Pipe(line) Dreams. You can read more about the project on the website.

Please support my work on this project by viewing the film and leaving your feedback. It is crucial to show funders that this work matters!

The U.S. now imports more oil from Africa than from the Middle East, with oil accounting for more than 80% of all African imports into the country. African is soon expected to account for close to one quarter of U.S. oil consumption.

With Africa increasingly seen as the next frontier of oil exploration, there is no shortage of oil companies lining up for financing from the World Bank Group. Oil drilling has begun in Ghana with support from the World Bank Group; loans may soon be approved for Uganda. New oil has been found in Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, Angola — even Sierra Leone.  The list goes on, with government and corporate officials in each country promising to make oil work for the people.

But in countries lacking accountability, with weak legal systems and lax or nonexistent environmental regulation and enforcement, is oil really a viable development option? And is there a valid reason that public funds subsidize these projects?  Both the U.S. and China depend heavily on African oil, yet we rarely see anything about how that oil dramatically transforms African communities, economies and environments. Pipe(line) Dreams, a timely and globally relevant story, will bring much needed attention to the rapidly expanding oil industry in Africa. 

19 Responses to “Oil…A Pipeline to Prosperity?”

  1. Alan M Dransfield says:

    The latest viedo by Christiane Badgley is a brlliant piece of filming and shows the problems with the Chad/Cameroon Piepline (CCP) and STILL Exxonmobil and the World Bank continue to operate the CCP in a legal void.
    In light of the Deepwater Horizon (DH) incident the CCP should be subjected to a full safety and environmental audit and the follwing questions asked.
    1.Why is the CCP allowed to operate in a legal void.
    2.Why are there no environmental protection plans for the CCP
    3.Why are there no oil spill plans on the CCP
    4.Why is the Offshore Tanker operating under a flag of convenience.
    5.Why is the Offshore Tanker a 40 year old single hull rusk bucket.
    6.Why have the World Bank been allowed to run away from the CCP

    The latest viedo proves without doubt that the “POVERT ELEVIATION” programme by the World Bank is simply not working and shows the world bank,Exxonmobil and other have failed their duty of care to the poor indiginous people along the pipeline route.

  2. bob paris says:

    Great video. Rare to get the story from those on the ground who’ve actually been damaged by the pipeline. These people are usually invisible in the western media. Let’s get this piece on TV!

  3. Alan M Dransfield says:

    I agree with you Bob, this video needs more TV coverage. Christiane is doing a great job but rest assured she is only touching the tip of the iceburgh.

  4. Great piece. Thanks for sticking to a neglected story.

    Jonathan at Global Integrity

  5. Alan M Dransfield says:

    Breaking news from Exxonmobil CEO is that Exxonmobil could not cope with a similar oil spill to that of the Deepwater Horizon.
    Damn right they couldn’t cope with it and they can’t cope with any oil spills around the world. Exxon,BP and other Oil Giants are illprepared for such spills. The Chad/Cameroon Pipeline (Exxon) has been operating in a legal void for 7 years and is expected to continue in such a state for the next 40 years.

  6. Alan M Dransfield says:

    Breaking news from the BP Oil Spill is video footage from 4/5 young men fishing DIRECTLY under the Oil Rig moments before the Deepwater Horizon exploded.Talk about a LUCKY ESCAPE.
    Tony Heyward purports the HIGHEST levels of safety and environmental standards which is somewhat strange which allows fishermen DIRECTLY under the rigs??!!
    This must SURELY be a breach of SECURITY and send the wrong message to the terrorists groups.??!!

  7. […] than 1500 people from 130 countries scheduled to attend.  I’m thrilled that my short film, Cameroon: Pipeline to Prosperity? will be screening at the […]

  8. alan m dransfield says:

    Where can I access your film please

  9. […] Christian Penda Ekoka pointed out when I interviewed him in Yaounde last year, the Cameroonian negotiators accepted a fixed-rate transit fee, despite his repeated efforts to […]

  10. Lisa Slakov says:

    Thank you to the film makers and funding agencies that made this film possible. It is so important that these stories, that are otherwise never heard, get told. Coming from Canada, my perception is that there is little knowledge of what is actually happening in Africa at the moment except for the odd report from mainstream media. These accounts tend to leave the audience with an impression of the African situation being so far away from our daily reality and so challenging as to be impossible to respond to. I think that films like Pipeline Dreams bring accurate and untold stories to the world in a way that makes the African reality more tangible and understandable.

  11. mike says:

    Nice work! Would like to see more footage/documentaries like this

  12. Karen L. Greene says:

    I want to add my thanks to the filmmaker and to the funders. It is crucial that this information, and information of this kind more generally, find wide distribution. The problems with development, questions of environmental justice, and the gap between publicity and reality from the major engines behind ‘poverty alleviation’ have dire implications. Badgley’s film is so well presented with heart, fact, and clarity. I will be looking for more…

  13. Alan M Dransfield says:

    We need to raise funds to allow Christiane Badgley to revist the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline and film the WHOLE length of the pipeline.
    Thats the only way to establish the Pipeline is a boondoogle and environmental-safety timebomb.

  14. […] was constructed has about 2/3 of its surface licensed to mining operations. (See my documentary, Oil: A Pipeline to Prosperity? for more information on Campo Ma’an.) You may like these posts . . . ExxonMobil buys […]

  15. Momo wa Bolongo I says:

    Hi Christiane,

    Am from Kribi (Sud Cameroon) where the pipeline is crossing. Also my family is affected by this project and still no compensation for the occupied land where my grand-father used to do farming. Thanks for highlighting this issue so brilliantly. Something needs to be done in one way or another in a more civilized way.

    I think, COTCO should do more for the social development and the protection of the environment but local people needs to suggest initiatives going in the direction of levitating poverty, and so on. Genuine organizations need to be set up to work with COTCO in order to deal with all these issues.
    I am currently running is small group of discussion on facebook and we just created a non-governmental organization called Peuples de l’Ocean et Developpement Durable (PODD) with the aims to deal with such issue (poverty, Education, Environment protection, etc…). We hope to meet with you sometime very soon in Kribi (Cameroon) where we are active.
    Keep up and
    Best wishes!

    • adama fall says:

      thanks guys.Oil compagny should improve their pratics about environment by taking care of their pipelines from leakage.This one can soil the groud for a long period and make killed animals.

  16. Andre says:

    Attention should be given to accountants and purchase officers of COTCO, who actually purchase cheap products, embezzeled the money and flew away to leave in North America.
    Cotco may help with the list of those who audited and implemented the social projects of the pipeline.

  17. Alan M Dransfield says:

    It is a great shame we cannot fund Christiane Badgley’s return trip to film the whole length of the Chad Cameroon Pipeline (approx 1070KM)some 12 years after it was commissioned .

    I would predict the pipeline to undergo several serious Oil Spills any time soon, owing to the poor design,sub standard materials and workmanship on the whole length of the pipeline.
    In a nutshell the pipeline is bondoggle and the World Bank are fully responsible.

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