1st Crude Shipped in West Africa
By EMMANUEL TUMANJONG, Associated Press Writer
YAOUNDE, Cameroon - The first tanker set off from a Cameroon
port with crude from a massive $3.7 billion pipeline, officials
said Sunday, launching an ambitious World Bank project aimed at
developing West African oil as an alternative to Mideast
President Bush's administration, hopeful of lessening U.S.
dependence on Mideast oil, has pushed development of West
The 665-mile pipeline from the landlocked nation of Chad to the
Atlantic ports of Cameroon represents the World Bank's
largest-ever investment in sub-Saharan Africa.
Conceived in 1996 with support from the Clinton administration,
the pipeline was developed by an international consortium, with
ExxonMobile holding a 40 percent stake, Malaysia's Petronas 35
percent, and ChevronTexaco 25 percent.
A tanker carrying the first 950,000 barrels left the Cameroon
port of Kribi for world markets on Friday, Cameroon's National
Oil Transportation Co. and National HydroCarbons Co. told The
Presidents Paul Biya of Cameroon and Idriss Deby of Chad are to
inaugurate the pipeline next Friday.
West Africa, led by Nigeria, already supplies the United States
with about one-fifth of its oil — roughly equal to Saudi
Arabia's share of the U.S. market.
The pipeline project included development of 300 wells in the
Doba oil fields in southern Chad. The oil fields are estimated
to hold reserves of more than 900 million barrels.
The World Bank, in its first foray into supporting oil
production, supplied 3 percent of the financing for the
pipeline. It is part of a strategy to get developing countries
to use revenues from their own resources to alleviate poverty.
The World Bank has set up an independent monitoring panel to
oversee accounting — an unprecedented undertaking in a region
known for corruption, plutocracy and environmental disasters.
Other financiers include the European Investment Bank, US
Export-Import Bank, the French export credit agency COFACE and a
group of private banks led by Dutch ABN-Amro and Credit Agricole
Backers say daily production will hit 250,000 barrels at peak
and revenues could reach $2 billion for Chad and $500 million
for Cameroon over the projected 25-year production period.
Chad's leaders have pledged to invest the majority of expected
oil revenues in programs to lift the country out of poverty and
to develop health, educational, and agricultural sectors.
International environmental organizations, notably in the United
States and Germany, have called the project a danger to
Cameroon's rain forest and to Pygmies living there.