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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs