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Crude Oil: Production Slumps

Crude oil accounts for most of the production and export of the extractive sector in Cameroon but the sector suffers from frequent price fluctuations.

 Cameroon is one of the leading producers of crude oil in the world. Ranked 55th in the world with known oil reserves of some 200,000,000 barrels as at 2016, the country’s oil production stands at 92.469 barrels per day making it the 52nd highest producer in the world according to Worldometer statistics. In February 2021, production of crude oil for Cameroon was 64.51 thousand barrels per day. Production fell gradually from 67.68 thousand barrels per day in March 2020 to 64.51 thousand barrels per day in February 2021.

According to the National Hydrocarbons Corporation (SNH), production during the first quarter of 2019 (January to 30 April 2019) oil production stood at 8.10 million barrels recording a regression of -1.53 per cent compared to same period during the previous year. This, SNH attributed to the natural depletion of oil fields.  Between January to April 30, 2021, SNH reported that crude oil production was at 8.419 million barrels recording a drop of -6.82 per cent compared to same period in 2020.

The share of oil revenues in the Cameroonian State budget is forecasted to drop from FCFA 450 billion this year to FCFA 409 billion in 2020 before further falling to FCFA 390 billion in 2021, making a total decline by FCFA 60 billion over the 3-year period. This was revealed in the provisional operation table made available by the finance department. With a 33.2 fall in the world crude oil prices Cameroon’s 2021 State budget projected oil revenue to FCFA 293 billion. While the real reasons for this diminution are not clearly specified, it can be attributable to the fluctuation in international crude oil prices per barrel, in relation to the value of the dollar, and even the evolution of local production, which has been declining in recent years. The average price of Cameroon crude oil according to SNH is USD 39.38 per barrel.

Over 70 per cent of Cameroon’s crude oil production is exported. According to the 2018 Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Report published in June 2021, Cameroon exported 21,845,145 barrels of crude out of the 24,261,477 barrels produced with a value of FCFA 875.63 billion.

At the moment, SNH has put on promotion nine blocks in the hydrocarbons rich Rio del Rey Basin (RDR) and in the highly prospective Douala/Kribi-Campo (DKC) Basin. These blocks are Ndian River, Bolongo Exploration and Bakassi (in RDR), Etinde Exploration, Ntem, Elombo, Tilapia, Bomono and Kombe-N'sepe (in DKC).

Oil prospection began in Cameroon in 1947. The first commercial discoveries were made in the Rio Del Rey basin in 1972, but the country became an oil producer only in 1977, when Kole field was put on production.  Production reached the record level of 186 000 barrels per day in 1985. However, beginning 1986, when the "oil price collapse" occurred, it began to decline.

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