Cameroon blames piracy for oil output slide


Crude oil production from Cameroon fell by 13 percent last year in a hit to state coffers, in part because piracy off the coast cut investment, the state oil company said.

Output averaged 73 094 barrels per day, down from about 84 000 bpd in 2008 as spending on developing the sector dropped by more than a third, the National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH) said in a release.
“One of the reasons for this decrease (in investment) is the international financial crisis coupled with the insecurity which prevailed in the operations zone,” the National Hydrocarbons Corporation said in a statement yesterday.

Direct investment in exploration and production dropped to $291.95 million from $472.45 million in 2008, it said.

As much as 95 % of Cameroon’s oil comes from the Rio del Rey basin in the Gulf of Guinea, an area that has seen an increase in attacks on commercial vessels in recent months that analysts have said could hamper the region’s resource exports and investment.

Gulf of Guinea countries, like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Guinea, are important sources of crude oil, cocoa and bauxite to Western markets.

The flagging oil production in Cameroon extends steep declines since the mid-1980s, when output peaked at over 185 000 bpd, and poses a worry for a government that depends on crude for half of state revenues.

SNH said lower oil output and a slump in world prices CLc1 last year led to a 49 percent fall in its contribution to the treasury to 331.761 billion CFA francs ($673.5 million) from 651.75 billion in 2008.

Cameroon, trying to diversify its economy with a slew of projects around power, mining and shipping, has oil reserves of about 212.77 million barrels and gas reserves of around 500 billion cubic meters, SNH said.

The country is hoping to build a liquified natural gas terminal in Kribi by 2015.