Cameroon quietly ups oil production

Kribi, Cameroon, where sleepy beach resorts will soon give way to a major port and gas plant. Photo by Christiane Badgley

Cameroon’s oil industry doesn’t get much international attention these days, but like its neighbors the country has seen growing offshore activity over the last few years. After years of declining output, the country’s production levels are once again on the rise.

The Scottish company, Bowleven, has been drilling in Cameroon for several years now and its hits and misses usually get some coverage in the business press. Kosmos Energy, Perenco, Shell, ExxonMobil and Noble Energy, among others, are also actively drilling in the country.

Although Cameroon’s oil production levels are close to those of Ghana, there’s no talk of transparent revenue management in Cameroon. The country recently had its EITI candidacy status renewed for another 18 months. It should be noted that the country was already “close to compliant” in 2010 and hasn’t made much progress since. According to EITI rules, “If Cameroon does not achieve Compliant status by 15 August 2013, it will be de-listed.”

(For more information on revenue transparency in Cameroon’s oil industry, the IMF published a policy discussion paper in 2006, Strengthening Transparency in the Oil Sector in Cameroon: Why Does It Matter? )

Cameroon doesn’t lack civil society organizations or activists pressing for improved financial, social and environmental management of oil and other extractive industries (mining is a major growth industry in Cameroon). The government, however, has shown limited interest in engaging with civil society. It’s also hard for journalists to report on the oil industry. Although Cameroon has allowed an independent press to develop, press freedom remains restricted and investigating state authorities like SNH (the national oil company) is extremely difficult.

Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, who speaks of grand accomplishments, but spends months on end in Switzerland, doesn’t seem to have to time to worry about the “resource curse”.

As Cameroon quietly increases oil production, gets its multiple gas projects off the ground and prepares to launch several major mining projects, it would be great to hear a bit more from the government about its commitment to sound environmental and financial management of the extractive industries. And, while we’re dreaming, how about some news about bringing the benefits of increased oil production to the people of Cameroon?

Here’s a recent story from Reuters on Cameroon’s oil sector growth:

Cameroon Crude Output on Track for 100,000 bpd in 2012

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon is on target to double crude production to 100,000 barrels per day in 2012 after independent oil producer Perenco raised output from the Baf 3 oilfield to 50,000 bpd, an official at Cameroon’s state-run hydrocarbons corporation said.

Oil production in the central African state, which peaked at 185,000 bpd in the mid-1980s, averaged around 65,000 bpd in 2011 due to maturing oil fields.

“The progress at Baf 3 is a clear indication that we are very likely going to meet our target of increasing total national production to at least 100,000 bpd in 2012,” said the official of the National Hydrocarbons Corporations (SNH), who asked not to be named.

Denis Clerc-Renaud, director-general of Perenco Cameroon, which became the leading oil operator in the country after taking over Total E&P operations in April 2011, said the firm will be focusing on reopening wells and improving production techniques.

Parenco’s other assets in Cameroon include the Dissoni oil field in the Rio Del Rey basin close to the Nigerian boarder, due to come onstream in the second half of 2012, and the Moudi and Ebome Marine concessions in the Douala/Kribi-Campo basin.

“One of our target is to start the Dissoni field. Heavier works will begin soon and production start date should be as we have said, that is around August 2012,” Clerc-Renaud said.

The development of the two Dissoni onshore oilfields could raise Perenco country output by at least 25,000 bpd, bringing the firm’s total production to 75,000-80,000 bpd.

2 Responses to “Cameroon quietly ups oil production”

  1. Essola Paul says:

    The management of funds generated by the blooming oil production activities of Cameroon will change progressively. We are progressively changing gear in transparent management and all those who manage state funds not given room for any indelicacy in their management. The National Anti Corruption Commission and the higher state control are working actively to make sure all those who poorly manage state funds be punished without hesitancy

  2. Christiane Badgley says:

    Thank you for your comment. I am interested to learn more about Cameroon’s efforts and will be happy to report on progress that the country makes towards more transparent management of the extractive industries.

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