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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs