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Cameroon To Refine Its Oil

The announcement was made by the minister of Water resource and energy, Gaston Eloundou Essomba on August 10th during a governmental press conference led by the Minister of Communication, René Emmanuel Sadi.

Cameroon, like any other country of the Gulf of Guinea, enjoys the presence of various natural resources such as gas and oil. It is in such a context that the country set up a refining company on March 24, 1973, called Sonara (National Refining Company. The company, which is 4% owned by Total and 96% by the State, given its design and the equipment installed there, has proved itself inefficient in terms of refining Cameroonian oil.
According to the minister of Water resource and Energy, this is explained by the fact that Cameroon’s oil, which is a heavy crude, does not come under the competence of Sonara. The company can thus only refine semi-finished products which are later sold to other refineries. The Minister thus informs that this situation has made the Cameroonian refinery unprofitable.
In other words, it is a “topping reforming” refinery, meaning a simple one designed to process light crude (Arabian light) while Cameroon currently produces heavy crude. There is therefore a mismatch between the existing tool at the refinery and the croods available. It is for this reason that Cameroon regularly imports petroleum products. This situation explains the high cost of the pump compared to other countries in the Gulf of Guinea.
To solve this issue, the government, nearly half a century after the establishment of Sonara, decided to see how to provide the latter with equipment allowing it to refine the country’s oil and make Sonara profitable.
But this, as Gaston Eloundou Essomba pointed out, involves the upstream management of Sonara’s debt, which before its fire on May 31, 2019, amounted to around 700 billion, “we must therefore first rethink its recapitalization, then, pacify relations with the various importers, traders to whom Sonara owes a lot of money. Today, agreements have been signed between the Ministry of Finance and these various traders to pay as and when what was hard for them. This has given Sonara certain credibility,” the Minister informed.

Gaston Eloundou Essomba

As for the refurbishment of the Sonara, however, no date has been announced by the minister; but just a progress of the implementation of the project, “we will then proceed to the signing of a public-private partnership. A call will thus soon be launched for the recruitment of a partner within the framework of the complete rehabilitation of Sonara where we want to modernize all the equipment and install a hydro tractor so that Sonara produces a standardized product (ed. heavy)” informs the minister of Water and Energy.

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