allafrica | Cameroon has sent its special envoy, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, Minister of State, Secretary General at the Presidency of the Republic, to Chad to resolve the ongoing diplomatic rupture between the two countries over the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline project. The dispute centers around the nationalization of Chad’s oil industry and the involvement of new investors like Savannah Energy.
Background: The Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project
The Chad-Cameroon Pipeline project was designed to transport crude oil from landlocked Chad to the coast of Cameroon for export. It has been mired in controversy and disputes since its inception in the 1990s. The project was developed and operated by the Tchad Oil Transportation Company (TOTCO) and the Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (COTCO), which were both jointly owned by the Chadian and Cameroonian governments, as well as several international oil companies, including ExxonMobil and Petronas.
Interview with Chad President Idriss Deby Itno
During his visit to Chad, Ngoh Ngoh had an audience with President Idriss Deby Itno, during which they discussed the nationalization of Chad’s oil industry and the involvement of new investors like Savannah Energy. President Itno emphasized that there was no tension between Cameroon and Chad and that they had addressed certain misunderstandings.
“We are neighbors, and we have always cooperated closely. Certain misunderstandings were addressed, and there is no cloud between Cameroon and Chad,” said President Itno.
The Dispute: Nationalization, Investment, and Politics
The latest episode in the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline saga is a dispute between Chad and Cameroon over the nationalization of Chad’s oil industry and the involvement of new investors like Savannah Energy. In late 2022, ExxonMobil sold its shares in the pipeline project and asked Chad to find new investors. However, amid delays in finding new investors, Chad decided to nationalize its oil industry, including the business left behind by ExxonMobil. This move was seen as a significant departure from the previous government’s policy of attracting foreign investment to the sector.
Savannah Energy, a relatively unknown British company, emerged as a potential investor in the negotiations. However, Chad was angry at Cameroon for apparently siding with Savannah Energy and blocking their access to the oil industry in Doba, Chad. Cameroon’s involvement in the dispute stems from its shares in COTCO, which controls a significant part of the pipeline. Without the agreement between Chad and Cameroon, COTCO would not exist.
The dispute highlights the challenges and complexities of managing large-scale extractive industries in developing countries. The Chad-Cameroon Pipeline project has been lauded as a significant development opportunity for the region, but it has also faced numerous hurdles and criticisms over the years. The recent nationalization of Chad’s oil industry and the involvement of new investors like Savannah Energy only add to the uncertainty surrounding the project’s future.?