New Internationalist


Issue 361

Click here to subscribe to the print edition. [image, unknown] New Internationalist 361[image, unknown] [image, unknown] [image, unknown] October 2003[image, unknown] Click here to search the mega index.

Oil pipelines / DREAMS

Pipelines bring jobs and development to the countries they cross, which in turn bring new-found economic prosperity. Those affected by the minimal disruption are amply compensated. Yeah, right. in their dreams. Here's how some of the PR-hype used to justify Africa's newly completed Chad-Cameroon pipeline is translating in reality...
[image, unknown]

[image, unknown]
Route: 1,070 kilometres underground from 300 oil wells in the Doba Basin in southern Chad, Africa to Kribi on Cameroon's Atlantic Coast.

Corporate owners:
ExxonMobil (US – 40%);
Petronas (Malaysia – 35%);
ChevronTexaco (US – 25%).
Cost of building: $2.2 billion.

Financiers: The corporate owners - 81%; the World Bank Group and its affiliate, the International Finance Corporation - nearly 6%. Export-credit agencies and commercial banks are providing the balance.

Volume of oil transported: Up to 225,000 barrels per day from estimated reserves of 917 million barrels.

‘Economy transformed!’
'Out of the estimated profits of $8 billion, Cameroon will receive 7%, Chad 22% and the [oil corporations] consortium 71%. The project's economic benefits are all the more reduced inCameroon as the construction phase was tax free.'
London-based NGO, the Bretton Woods Project.

‘Poverty eradicated!’
'Critics fear that little of the income will reach thepoorest populations [and that] much will be lostthrough incompetence and corruption. The concern that oil money will be used to purchase weapons to strengthen the [Chad] Government's force against rebel opposition movements proved valid in November 2000, when the Government used $4.5 million of a $25-million oil contract bonus to purchase weapons from Taiwan. The Presidentjustified this action by stating that "development must be protected".'
JP Martin, ‘Chad Cameroon Oil Pipeline Project: a Study Tool andCase Study’,

‘Jobs provided!’
'Most jobs provided to the local population were limited to unskilled positions for a short period, with the better-paying positions reserved for workers from the cities or even abroad. Permanent employment positions after thecompletion of the construction phase are said tobe about 350 in Chad and negligible in Cameroon.'
Center for Environment and Development/Friends of the EarthCameroon, Friends of the Earth International and Milieudefensie.

‘The people want it!’
'Serious disputes were recorded on the amounts of compensation. In several villages, springs were destroyed, thereby depriving people of access todrinking water. Rural people have had to grapplewith severe food insecurity and an outbreak of health problems, especially HIV.'
London-based NGO, the Bretton Woods Project

‘A better deal for indigenous people!’
'During the construction of the pipeline, small game fled deeper into the bush, communal fruit trees were cut down, and medicinal plants were lost. The oil consortium sent representatives several times and promised new housing as compensation. "They have been making promises for two years. It's like a tree that dies and falls in the forest. You can wait and wait, but it will never rise."'
Edited extract of Los Angeles Times writer Ken Silverstein's June 2003 report ofhis conversation with the chief of the Cameroon village of Maboula - one of 60villages scattered on or about the pipeline where 1,000 Bakola 'Pygmies' live.


Further reading:
Friends of the Earth Cameroon et al Broken Promises: The Chad-Cameroon Oil and Pipeline Project (2001) and Traversing People's Lives (2002), both of which can be obtained at

Previous page.
Choose another issue of NI.
Go to the contents page.
Go to the NI home page.
Next page.
© Copyright 2003 New Internationalist
Publications Ltd
. All rights reserved.

This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7

Comments on Pipedreams

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Recently in Features

All Features

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 361

New Internationalist Magazine issue 361
Issue 361

More articles from this issue

  • The blessed curse

    October 1, 2003

    Asia’s richest country is trying to take oil and gas away from Asia’s poorest country. Quinton Temby uncovers some devious diplomacy.

  • And the oil runneth over...

    October 1, 2003

    A gallery of spills, explosions and flares from around the world.

  • Pipelines to power

    October 1, 2003

    Oil pipelines are supposed to bring power to the people, but Chris Richards finds conflict and corruption littering their length.

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.