News / Africa

Piracy Cuts Oil Production in Cameroon, Threatens Future Investment

Cameroon says its oil production is falling, in part, because of piracy. Our correspondent looks at the economic impact of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and how it differs from piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Cameroon's National Hydrocarbons Corporation says crude oil production is averaging just over 73,000 barrels a day. That is down 13 percent from levels just one year ago as spending in the oil sector has dropped by more than one-third.

The state oil firm says that is partly a result of the international financial crisis and partly a result of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea brought on by increasing piracy.

As much as 95 percent of Cameroon's oil comes from a basin in the Gulf of Guinea, where attacks on commercial shipping and raids on government outposts have made the area increasingly lawless, threatening the region's export of oil, natural gas, and bauxite.

Seven Chinese fishermen were kidnapped last month in international waters off the Bakassi Peninsula which separates Cameroon from Nigeria. The previously-unknown Africa Marine Commando group is thought to have been paid a ransom for their release.

Days later, the group raided a gendarmerie post in Bakassi stealing weapons and ammunition. It then hijacked a Nigerian boat off the coast of Cameroon, demanding more than $1 million for its release.

Raymond Gilpin is an associate vice president for sustainable economies at the US Institute of Peace. He says piracy is partly a result of the breakdown in a deal that resolved a long-running border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula.

"The issues have a lot to do with the fall-out from Bakassi and the apparent harassment of Nigerian nationals on the peninsula," said Raymond Gilpin. "There is a lot of disaffectation in the communities. And as they have done in the Delta, the main way that they demonstrate how disaffected they feel and how wronged they feel they have been is by criminal activity."

Gilpin says piracy threatens the profitability of new oil exploration off Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Nigeria's Niger Delta. The interest in new sources of oil will always be there, but Gilpin says it is the quality of investment that will suffer.

"You are less likely to see oil majors who have the capacity and the deep-pockets for the sort of exploration that will be required go in first," he said. "You are more likely to see smaller concerns go in and test the waters. And what this does it costs the countries because when the oil majors come in later, the beneficiaries are the smaller companies that took the risk to go in in the first place, not the countries."

Gilpin says very few countries in the Gulf of Guinea have addressed what he calls vast gaps in maritime security from Nigeria to Angola. Pirate groups that withdrew after increased security in 2000 are now reemerging. But unlike the more-publicized piracy off the coast of Somalia, Gulf of Guinea pirates are less organized.

"Somalia is a projection of lawlessness on land out at sea," said Gilpin. "And therefore you have more organization among the clans to support and sustain piracy. You also have more organization out on the high seas with mother ships supplying and sustaining the skiffs. You also have a lot more organization in terms of financial flows with business communities in Yemen and Kenya and some in Somalia financing, supporting and facilitating the whole chain of piracy through to the ransom."

In the Gulf of Guinea, Gilpin says most pirates operate individually or in less organized groups of small boats.

"What they do share in common is a general trend toward non-lethality unless they feel that their lives are in danger because what both sets are after is the ransom," he said.

The U.S. private security firm MPRI last month won a $250-million contract from Equatorial Guinea to provide nationwide coastal surveillance against piracy.

Gilpin says there should be a broader regional approach to maritime security either through the Economic Community of West African States or the Gulf of Guinea Commission established by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.  

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid