A Bright Future for Natural Gas and Crude Oil Reserves

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As a key component in Cameroon's extractive industries' sector, oil and gas exploration and production are receiving unprecedented government support. Progress in this regard is encouraging and ever-higher hydrocarbon production is anticipated in future years as the industry reforms and modernises, allowing Cameroon to become a leading African player in international markets.

With reserves of just 250m barrels, Cameroon may not yet be in the top league of African oil producers, but concerted exploration activities by a number of international oil company majors would seem to indicate that the potential for growth in confirmed reserves is considered by many as commercially viable. The reasons are geological, with Cameroon being located at a pivotal point on Africa's Atlantic seaboard on the Gulf of Guinea, sharing a proximity to the same basin as two of Africa's biggest producers, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, as well as other petroleum countries such as Gabon, Congo and Chad. Currently, exploration is being undertaken in several parts of Cameroon, from the basin of Logone-Birni, to the frontiers of Chad and Nigeria, as well as those of Rio del Rey on the Atlantic littoral adjacent to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.

The state-owned National Company of Hydrocarbons recently issued exploration licences to a number of western multinationals including the French firm Total.

The Bakassi peninsula

Although Cameroon's development policy is not dependent on the country's oil revenues, it should be noted that oil constitutes, after other revenues from taxes and customs, one of the state's main income streams, contributing more than CFA400bn to the Treasury and, in 2010, forecast to represent 20% of the country's domestic income.

The handover of the previously disputed Bakassi peninsula by Nigeria, following arbitration by the UN to determine the international border between the two countries, is likely to increase Cameroon's hydrocarbon production, as the Bakassi peninsula is known to be an oil-rich region.

In order to prepare for increased production and the country's increasing demand for refined petroleum products, the Cameroonian government has just undertaken an expansion and modernisation of the country's sole refinery at Limbe, managed by the country's refining parastatal Sonara. …